Game of the Month: Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episodes I & II
Release Date: 10/12/2010 & 05/15/2012
System: PC/PlayStation 3/Xbox 360/Wii
Graphics: 3.0 out of 4.0
Game Play: 3.0 out of 4.0
Personal: 2.0 out of 2.0
Total Score: 8.0 out of 10.0
Player’s Page: Sonic the Hedgehog 4
When we last left our hero, he had just finished battling the evil Dr. Robotnik above the planet. After successfully defeating his evil foe, Sonic was able to recover the master emerald and save the floating island. With evil out of the way it seems like live can finally return to normal for Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles and all of their animal friends. Sonic decides to take a vacation on his own and speeds off to new lands.
Sonic eventually finds himself in a nice tropical land near the water. This is the perfect place to relax and unwind after the challenging battles he has overcome in the recent past. However, all is not as it seems and soon Sonic discovers that the animal inhabitants of this idyllic place have been transformed into robots. This is the calling card of the evil Dr. Robotnik and, as improbable as it may seem; the evidence seem clear that the evil genius somehow survived his fall from space and has quickly returned to his evil ways.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is the direct sequel to the 1994 classic Sonic & Knuckles. The game seeks to return to the series roots by focusing on Sonic, speed, and basic platform game play. In addition to the focus on classic elements the developers also incorporated a number of elements from newer games such as a world map, stage select, and achievements. The developers focused on presenting the game in multiple episodes which could allow them to present different game play elements while allowing each episode to be reminiscent of one of the original games. Each episode contains four zones broken up into three acts and a boss battle with a final showdown zone appearing after the completion of the first four.
Episode I mirrors the original Sonic the Hedgehog in many positive and some negative ways. It features Sonic battling through four zones which are essentially updated versions of the zones from the original Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with elements from each game mixed together. The episode focuses on Sonic and as a result there is no Tails or Knuckles to choose from. This is because the developers had grown tired of the endless parade of new characters and they had a desire to return to a more simple time.
The abilities of Sonic are similar to those in the original, and as a result the rolling ability that has become familiar to many people is almost nonexistent in this episode. This leaves Sonic’s movements feeling a bit heavy and clunky. As a result, players will have to focus on running and jumping to navigate their way through each act. These restrictions on movement can seem a bit odd but they serve to make the game a truer throwback to the original.
Episode II mirrors the second Genesis game, Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Unlike the first episode, the zones in Episode II are essentially combinations of stages from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles, and Sonic CD. This episode features the return of Sonic’s long time partner, Miles “Tails” Prower; as the two friends team up to defeat the evil Dr. Robotnik for yet another time. The episode also reintroduces the spinning and rolling ability that have become familiar to many people, and as a result Episode II has more fluid movement and game play mechanics than Episode I.
Both episodes allow the player to collect chaos emeralds by completing special stages. In order to enter a special stage a player will need to jump through a massive ring at the end of each act which will only reveal itself if the player collects fifty rings and completes the act. Each episode has a different special stage. In Episode I’s special stage, which is similar to the original game; sonic must collect the emerald by dropping through a rotating maze, but unlike the original; the player must contend with a timer. In Episode II’s special stage, which is reminiscent of the second game; Sonic and Tails must collect a set number of rings while running through a chute. Once a player obtains the seven chaos emeralds they will be able to transform into Super Sonic which has become synonymous with the series since the second game.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episodes I & II are great games which will remind one of playing video games during the early 1990’s. Each episode is a standalone game and one does not have to play Episode I in order to enjoy Episode II. The graphics have been updated to give a 3D feel to the game, but the player will still be reminded of the 2D classics. The stage select feature is a nice addition which allows one to replay favorite stage without needing to replay the entire game.
When one starts to play Sonic the Hedgehog 4, they will be amazed at how quickly they are absorbed into the game and how quickly time will fly.
Remember, like all games if you play them just to have fun there will never be a bad game.