Sonic is one of the most iconic game characters of all time. In the day of the 16 bit era I was a huge fan and chose the blue mammal over the portly plumber. With the move to 3D, Mario has gone from strength to strength, whereas Sonic has been on a downward spiral. SEGA have decided to go back to the traditional old school 2D style with this downloadable only release. This review is based on playing the Wii version but is much the same for XBLA and PSN versions of the game.
Sonic 4 is without a doubt, a brilliant return to form for the franchise. Gone are the adventure modes and central hubs of newer 3D Sonic games. Sonic 4 returns to the classic formula of having Zones containing three levels and a boss in each. Fans of the series will instantly be familiar with the levels as they are similar to those of past games. The first level is classic design, with its green fields, waterfalls and 360 degree loops. Later levels include a casino area and an Labyrinth level which combines underground areas with those above ground. These are all fantastically designed; however they do sometimes feel like pretty versions of older games. It would have been nice to see a few original areas.
The game play is still the same which we are used to. The level can be tackled by either completing the level as fast as possible or to collect as many rings and defeat as many enemies as possible. Now there is also the opportunity to upload your scores via the internet so you can see how you far against the rest of the world. Speeding through the levels is the most fun and the game is seriously fast. The game never seems to slow down and the Wii handles all of the action with no slowdown at all. Sonic 4 controls really well, using a side on remote style or classic controller is the best option. Sonic has a couple of new moves and attacks this time round, which allows attacks on multiple enemies. The only aspect I found a little annoying was that if Sonic stops in his tracks, can take a while to move left or right afterwards.
Graphically the game is excellent. It has the same style as New Super Mario Bros, that that it is 2D in look but with 3D characters. It looks like Sonic 2 but with a superior visual overhaul. There are some great effects, such as water ripples and weather changes. Sound wise, the game has a great soundtrack which remixes some tunes from the older games. All in all the visuals and sound are an excellent mix which retains the classic Sonic look and at the same time bringing it up to date.
Sonic 4 is a fantastic return to form for SEGA. After years of shoddy 3D games and spin offs, this is the game fans have been waiting for. It is a little on the short side, but is perfect for a download title. I really cannot recommend this enough to fans and especially to new gamers who are used to the 3D nonsense. This is classic Sonic, oh how I’ve missed you.
Fantastic pick up and play, super fast platforming
Great characters, effects and levels
Great tunes, classic sound fx
Sonic 4 – Episode 1 is available now on XBLA, PSN and WiiWare, as well as on the iPhone and iPod touch.