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15 things you didn't know about Sonic 4: Episode II

10) The title screen is reminiscent of Sonic 2

Not just because Sonic and Tails are in it, but even the way the two emerge is familiar. Following old animation routines may be a nice nostalgic nod, but again it does leave us thinking this feels more like a tribute to the old games than a genuine, forward-thinking Sonic the Hedgehog 4.

11) The levels are relatively long

Even dashing through as quickly as we could on the Sylvania Castle stage, we only managed a 1'26"59. A minute and half without any major mistakes makes this level impressively lengthy. And that's before you take into account all the alternative routes.

12) The homing attack returns, only now some enemies can resist it

There are some hulking great badniks in White Park Zone. They resemble bears and have a vicious arm attack. You can home in on them easy enough, but it'll take three hits to see them off. They don't yield massive points bonuses either, which makes them an enemy you're probably better off avoiding.

13) The music is annoying

Perhaps the problem was that there were several demo pods all lined up in a noisy room, all playing the same music. But there's a section of the main melody in the White Park Zone that repeats slightly too often and started to drive us a little mad. Hopefully in isolation it will sound lovely. But the rest of the soundscape is familiar stuff all ring collects and jumping sounds that've been in the series since 1991.

14) Rolling is still not your fastest method of travel

We've long-since given up on the idea that Sonic's old physics can return in modern games. The movement in Sonic 4: Episode 2 does have slightly more inertia than its predecessor, but it still feels similar. As a result, as you're running down a slope, your best bet for acceleration is not to go into a ball as you would on Mega Drive, but instead to stay on your feet and let Sonic's legs bring the power. Disappointing, yes, especially as the recently re-released Sonic CD's slightly tweaked physics are an absolute joy. Still, that team-up move as seen here moves VERY quickly.

15) Surprisingly, these levels do not seem to have been designed for speed running

Sylvania Castle repeatedly pulls you up, requiring you to activate a Marble Garden-style spinning wheel switch or jump on a series of moving platforms. It's not a bad thing, but the way the levels were so cunningly designed for this in Sonic 4: Episode I is one of the biggest reasons we awarded it a 9. Episode 2 may have similar levels or other routes we haven't yet discovered, but it's a much more channeled experience from what we've seen in this demo.

So there you have it 15 things you didn't know about Sonic 4. Are we impressed? Yes. It looks significantly better than Episode 1, thanks to some beautiful scenery graphics and improved sense of depth. The lights on the trees in White Park Zone in particular make everything look very special. There doesn't seem to be anything majorly surprising to shake up the formula, which is a pity. But it looks much more inviting than its predecessor on first play, so should get a better reception when it's released later this year. More soon.

Justin worked on the GamesRadar+ staff for 10 whole years. Imagine that. Now he is a contributor, specialising in racing games, retro, and Sanic.