Archive for the ‘Platformer’ Category

Oh Sonic. That blue hedgehog has been through a lot recently; he was so popular in the early 90s. But recently, it seems developers are trying every gimmick to keep his name alive. Like, “How about we have Sonic run around really fast with a huge sword” or, “Let’s have Sonic run around really fast… and turn into a werewolf”. With all the tricks and gimmicks flying around (including making Sonic turn into colourful blobs) imagine the looks one guy got when he said, “How about we have Sonic run around super fast… and that’s it. Like the old days”. Well they tried that “radical” approach to going back to Sonic’s roots, and brought out Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1, the only real sequel to the original games.  Is it as good as the classic platformers?

Sonic 4 Comparison Screenshot

Sonic 4 Comparison - Deceivingly Intriguing (Image from http://www.xblafans.com/sonic-4-episode-1-xbla-game-review-2808.html)

This 4th instalment is set after the events of Sonic and Knuckles, which came out in 1994. That is a HUGE gap between sequels. The plot involves Dr Eggman (though I prefer Robitnik) surviving the destruction of his Death Egg, and returns to cause more havoc in his usual fashion; capturing little animals and forcing them to power his army of robot killing machines.  Now why would a Sonic game need a plot? You run from left to right as fast as you can, and beat the living daylights out of Robotnik every so often. That should be all. But that’s just my opinion.

There are only 4 levels in this game with the boss level known as the E.G.G Station, each with 3 acts and a boss section, which is pretty typical of a classic Sonic game. I won’t claim it as too much of a negative point as this is episode 1 of the series, so there may be more levels to come. The levels are Splash Hill, Casino Street, Lost Labyrinth, and Mad Gear. I have to say the level designs look really good, and no two levels are really the same. So the imagination from the 90s Sonic is still there.

The control system is as simple as you can make it; run with D-pad, press A to jump (If you’re playing the Xbox Arcade version). How can Sonic Team and Dimps mess this up? I’m saddened to say they have. It feels heavy and unresponsive to control Sonic. Jump and move forward, and it can take an age to go anywhere. This is a huge let down for me, as the controls need to be sharp and fast, to cope with the speeds you’ll reach during the levels… Actually that is false, as the speed is non existent in Sonic 4. In previous Sonic games you can go at a tremendous pace, which gives the player a real buzz at the end.  But in the 4th game, it takes too long to get moving, and when you reach full speed it seems more like a Sunday morning jog than blasting at supersonic speeds. That was the essence of the Sonic games. The speed is the essence. Take out the swiftness and that blue hedgehog is just a regular hedgehog that must be related to a Smurf.  Another thing that annoys me is that the creators gave Sonic a homing dash attack. Pressing the jump button in mid air will make you dash forward, and home in on nearby enemies or jump pads. It’s such a redundant move, as you’ll end up pressing jump when there are no enemies, so you dash forward, breaking the flow of your run, or missing the platform into a ravine, losing a life.

Sonic 4 Fan Art

Unresponsive, Slow, not keywords that are usually connected to Sonic titles

As I said before the levels all look great, but for some reason, Sonic himself seems to look out of place. Yes I am aware that blue on a green area does look out of place, but to me, Sonic looks like he is just pasted onto the game, and not an integral part of the experience. He just looks detached.

I must say I was very disappointed with this game. I wanted this to be great, to try and make up for some of the gimmicks Sonic had to play along with, and that fact I am a fan of the old cartridge games. The only modern Sonic game I have really enjoyed was Sonic Rush on the Nintendo DS. That has the essence of classic 2D platforming. It’s got to be bad when a hand held game beats a console game. Maybe it’s time to let Sonic retire with a cup of hot chocolate, and what little dignity he has left.

Score: 5/10

Review delivered with a heavy heart by: Satchel

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