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Sonic 4 trailer: 10 things no normal person would spot

So it's finally happened. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 has been announced. It's real, it's coming soon and there's a trailer to prove it, complete with a full two seconds of gameplay footage. Two. Full. Seconds.

How much can you glean from two seconds of video? If you're a long-time Sonic fan like me, a heck of a lot – and I'd like to tell you the good and the bad. I'm sure regular readers of the site will know that I love the old Sonic games (though I absolutely refute the rumours I own a Sonic suit – that's slanderous and I will sue).

I've bought Sonic 1 on at least 15 different machines now and I got the 'Perfect Win' achievement on XBLA without resorting to reloading a save file. I hold the Xbox 360 Sonic 2 Guinness World Record. I noticed that the '1992' sprite in the trailer was the Beta sprite, not the release version. I know my Sonic. But there are some things that worry me about this trailer. Take a look first - then I'll explain.


 

The BAD

Sonic's movement is all wrong

I have a theory about games in general, which is that as long as the movement of the game is right, you're three quarters of the way there. The whole Mario 64 'MIPS' rabbit chase tech demo is well documented, but Miyamoto had a point. So long as controlling the character is fun in itself, the rest of the game will follow suit. Yuji Naka's games were the same – just look at the difference between the fluid movement of NiGHTS on Saturn to NiGHTS on Wii. There's a huge gulf in fluidity. The movement in the trailer here is almost identical to that found in Sonic Rush on DS. It's slower (see the 'good things' below), sure, but that incline after the twist doesn't seem to slow Sonic in the slightest.


Above: In Sonic 2, an incline like that would've visibly slowed Sonic

Yuji Naka's 16-bit Sonic was affected by every undulation in the terrain, causing Sonic to jump higher on inclines and lower on declines. Obviously the new game will feature gravity and physics, but the simple fact is, Sonic in this trailer doesn't move like he does in Sonic 1, 2 or 3 and that's got me worried.

 

The rings are too big

Rings in Sonic games have lost their meaning over the past 19 years. They used to be magical, awe-inspiring collectables (that even continued spinning when you paused the game on Game Gear – how's that for mystique?) that felt like huge reward when you stumbled across a large group of them. These days? They're like a token gesture. And they're really big now. Almost like the special stage rings from Sonic Chaos. But not worth ten each.

 

And so is Sonic's head

Looks like big-headed Sonic is here to stay. It's been steadily inflating ever since he went 3D in Sonic into Dreams in Christmas NiGHTS and to be honest, it's in danger of popping. Guess he should pay even more attention than usual when he's around spikes…

He's probably got green eyes too. This isn't the Mr Needlemouse (Sonic's original name before he was Sonic) that was hinted at in the Sonic 4's codename. This is modern Sonic. I'll forgive him if he can make it through the whole game without talking. Fingers crossed.

 

It isn't entirely 2D

It's a side-scroller, which is great. It's even got proper parallax scrolling. Five layers of it! But Sonic himself is 3D. So is Dr Robotnik. So instead of taking the chance to create an HD Sonic sprite, hand-drawn like Naoto Oshima's original artwork, we get some flat-shaded cartoony 3D. Even on the spinner. It's great to see Robotnik back in his flying machine, but look at it – how's that going to 'thunk' when you cannon into it? It looks like… well, something out of Sonic Rush. Which was a good game, but not quite what we imagined the series should look like with modern-day tech. 

 

It's episodic 

Sonic 4 will be download-only and this is episode 1. Fail. If you're going to make Sonic 4, do so and sell it in its entirety. Online-only is fine, if it makes it less of a financial risk. If it does well, make Sonic 5. But making us wait 16 years for a sequel to Sonic 3 and then giving us a little bit of it is simply cruel.

And how much will each instalment cost? If it's 800 MS points (conjecture, but a reasonable guess), that's £6.80 or $10. Three or four of those and you're getting into full-price game territory, at which point it might as well have been a disc release. Let's hope the 'download-only' status isn't a disclaimer for reduced content.

 

The GOOD

OK, enough ranting. I'll admit, it's incredibly petulant to wish for something for a decade and then throw mud in its face when it finally arrives. So here's the flipside – and what's still got me excited.

 

It's called Sonic 4

That means this has been deemed a worthy sequel to the brilliant Sonic 3. It's going to have wings, badniks, bosses and end-of-act spinners. And hopefully an amazing special stage too...

 

The enemies are proper Badniks

Know what this is?

 

It's a Moto-bug. I've been mourning the loss of the original Badnik character design for ages and it's great to see Sonic attacking them instead of larger, more humanoid robots with guns. I would like to see a Flicky appear after Sonic destroys it, but hopefully that's just the trailer's editing and not an indication that the plot has changed. I want to see squirrels in the final game. SQUIRRELS.

 

It's out on... ???

The official site says it's down for XBLA, PSN, WiiWare and '???'. What could that mean? Handhelds? If they took out the 3D characters, it would probably run on a Mega Drive. Totally improbable, but as a special-edition, that would be amazing.

And just imagine if they released a special edition version on Dreamcast too...

 

The graphical style is (almost) back

Lush green grass overhanging every surface, casting a shadow onto the iconic chequerboard browns, loop-de-loops and even the Sonic 2 twisting strip. There are blocks of colourful flowers and pseudo-3D relief in the ground under Sonic's feet. It's not quite this…

 

…but it's much better than this

 

 

It's slower than Sonic Rush


Believe it or not, most Sonic fans don't want blistering speed for the entire game. If you give people everything all of the time, it loses its impact. It's the 15-minute guitar solo syndrome. If you play Sonic 1, you'll notice how the speedy sections are carefully rationed, interspersed with hardcore platforming. Just look at how great the Labyrinth Zone's waterslide bits were. Compared to the mega-slow underwater action, they were like a theme park ride.

 

So that's what I think. And I can say with 100% certainty that I do not speak for the majority of the team (who are either indifferent or sceptical). But what do you think? Have I gone mad? Should I be not allowed to play the game after such an outburst? I am still excited about the game. I guess I just wanted the whole thing to be as magical as the first five seconds of Palmtree Panic. When anything was possible and Sonic was on top of the world…

04 Feb, 2010

37 comments

  • wiigamer024 - February 12, 2010 2:33 p.m.

    Personally, I pretty excited for this game. See, I wasn't alive when the orginal 3 Sonic games came out for Genesis, but I've played them, and loved 'em. Now, I would really love to see everything 2D, the BG, the sprites, everything. Now, I realize, its now going to be the perfect seaquil, but as long as SEGA doesn't screw us big time, this game is gonna be great! Also, I'd just like to say one thing: SEGA, It took you guys 16 YEARS to make this?! 16 YEARS!?! God, SEGA, PLEASE don't screw us now!
  • AXELSTORM44 - February 10, 2010 3:02 a.m.

    i read a few rumors on different youtube posts of this ad: the running animation apparently isn't final, and sega may be working on a new console; which is what the ??? on the site may be. the 3-D is ok, i agree that the 2-D sprites would have been better though, and the episodic thing sucks. overall, can't wait for this.
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - February 8, 2010 5:13 p.m.

    Looks promising, yes. Which undoubtably means it'll be hte biggest piece of shit going
  • jackthemenace - February 7, 2010 10:32 a.m.

    this actually looks awesome! but that's coming from the guy that thought sonic heroes was a good game ¬_¬ COULD THE ??? be that random new like brazillian console or whatever that's coming out soon, the "zeebo"?
  • pikachu2000 - February 6, 2010 6:31 a.m.

    There's got to be some lame ass gimmick that Sega's not telling us. I have a feeling that they will screw this up big time again. It's all part of the Sonic Syndrome and we are at the first stage of an ever revolving cycle yet again. The only question left is: How the hell are thay going to screw this one up?
  • FinalGamer - February 5, 2010 6:09 p.m.

    I am at least glad to see that Sonic Team are somewhat on the right track back to getting something of Sonic's greatness back. But I will await with cautious non-optimism, I've been disappointed before, but I do hope for all the best. There's still a Sonic fan resonating deep within my heart that hopes for this to do well. Movement? Don't really mind that. Badniks back again? Oh hell yes. Sega chant logo? That made me weep in expectant joy.
  • shadow_nature - February 5, 2010 3:26 p.m.

    To me episodic possibly suggests that there is going to be a really terrible story tacked on to it like every other sonic game that has come out in the last ten or so years.
  • DeathandBlackMetal4 - February 5, 2010 12:40 p.m.

    Forget it, I got no hope for this game. It took them more than 10 years to finally go back to the only good Sonic game formula? Yeah right. Sega's going to fuck it up by adding another Furry or Final Fantasy reject. I'm not bothering with this game, and its DR. ROBOTNIK! what the fuck is Eggman? He's not an egg.
  • Broughy - February 5, 2010 12:20 p.m.

    This guy is talking out of his arse. Rings are too big, his head too big and movement is wrong? You judging all this on a TWO SECOND CLIP of a game that isn't out for months. Stop nit picking and trying to find fault.
  • MaynardJ - February 5, 2010 10:59 a.m.

    Could somebody please beat this spamming asshole hey01238 on the head with a golf club and crash his car?
  • mattdark - February 5, 2010 7:31 a.m.

    Its a demo download for sure. Ive had my hopes dashed too many times to just buy this the moment it comes out, so I'd need to see it and play it for myself before I decide if its gone 'back to its roots'
  • Red - February 5, 2010 7:04 a.m.

    The awkward running animation was the first red flag for me. The art style seems off in my opinion too. If it wasn't for the fact that every gaming news outlet is talking about this I would call it a hoax. It's not April is it? Either way, Sonic is dead to me. Sega needs to stop beating a dead horse and just get over it. It's over Sega. You killed him. GG noobs.
  • Rasy2kG - February 5, 2010 6:59 a.m.

    ay, this shit looks fresh yo'
  • bmrskate - February 5, 2010 4:38 a.m.

    We've been waiting for this for years, looks like Sega has started to pay attention a bit. Only took them a couple slaps to the head though. I really wish they would've done redrawn HD sprite animation minus Sonic's fathead new look with "spines" that look more like 80s hair band hair slicked back. I would've appreciated the classic look a lot more. For the love of God....Sega do NOT screw this up! This is Sonic 4, live up to that name and don't stain it!
  • CH3BURASHKA - February 5, 2010 3:03 a.m.

    I ain't no Sonic freak, but I was quite perturbed by his running animation: it was literally a jog. The 2.5D isn't quite as enthralling as 2D sprites. Still, if it's good, by God I will buy it.
  • waffledragon33 - February 5, 2010 1:13 a.m.

    i really think it is going to be good, i really, R...E...A...L...L...Y hope it is good.
  • SuperStingray - February 5, 2010 12:40 a.m.

    I'm with you on the last one but the first 9 seem incredibly nitpicky. The rings are too big? Sonic doesn't have the exact same design as he did on the genesis? It's not ENTIRELY 2D? Cry me a river. I get the nostalgia, but come on, this is ridiculous. And I can't really say anything about the episodic part though. Just because it's episodic doesn't mean each episode won't be a full length game in itself.
  • nik41507 - February 5, 2010 12:27 a.m.

    Did you say Sonic 4? *Giant explosion of happines and expectations* ?But you are a TRUE fanboy *bows down in respesct*
  • robotechandnarutosucks - February 5, 2010 12:11 a.m.

    screw this game. at the last second, sega will change it to a big the cat game.
  • TequilaSnakke - February 4, 2010 11:36 p.m.

    For God's SAKE, Sega! Look at Sonic in Smash Bros.! How the hell is it possible that THEY get Sonic's movement right and you can't? How can it be possible that you didn't notice at LEAST when building this teaser trailer? Why I keep on having faith? God, I don't know... Of course I'm still trying it. I only need 3 seconds moving Sonic ingame to know if our hopes were responded or to completely ignore it. It isn't being close minded, it's just that enjoying Sonic only needs to be fun to move, and then develop the levels around it. That's why almost every single Sonic fan's first memory is the first 10 seconds of Green Hill Zone, gorram it.

Showing 1-20 of 37 comments

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