Review by alexnobody
"A newer game thinly disguised as a retro game."
Back in the old days, Sonic was great. The speed, the atmosphere, the energetic music, the hectic mini-games and the challenging, but fair, bosses; what's not to love? Back when Sonic was in 2D, everything was great. However, things turned very bad for the blue hedgehog when he hit 3D. The controls began to get clunky, the camera tended to get in the way, the speed more or less vanished, and they introduced a whole slew of freaks that make a blue hedgehog wearing shoes sound mundane. After they introduced "Shadow" (a shadow version of Sonic, CALLED Shadow. Real creative.) as the star of his own game, shooting people with a gun and cursing like a sailor, I gave up hope on the series. They continued to release games where you go to an Arabian desert, transform into a werewolf-thing, wield a sword, and compete against Mario in the Olympics. I didn't look back on the series. As far as I was concerned, Sonic was long dead.
But then, a new Sonic game was released, in 2D! "Finally," I thought, "Sonic team has realized the error of their ways and gone back to the 2D! Now I can finally start playing more of that old classic Sonic goodness, right?"
First off, the controls are awful. Running is much more sluggish feeling. They actually start you off in a WALKING animation and build up to running! This is Sonic! Sonic doesn't walk! But I digress; if I rant about running too long, we'll be here all day. Spin-dashing feels...not quite bad, but different. If you hold down and press A ONCE, you go rocketing off into the horizon, and if you roll down a hill, you don't gain any speed at all. Even Mario gains speed when he slides down a hill! Aren't you supposed to be FAST, Sonic? You're being outrun by an Italian plumber! Is he getting old or something?
Next, there's the homing dash. First of all, what's it doing here? Isn't this game supposed to be nostalgic? Sonic didn't do that until Sonic 3D! It feels wrong to include it. Second, the attack feels sorta sticky. If you get anywhere near something while in midair, you lock on to it. If you press 2 while locked on, you dash toward it. If you are NOT locked on, you simply dash forward. The two functions feel VERY different, and there will definitely be times when it trips you up. It almost feels like there should have been 2 separate buttons for the 2 techniques. Oh, and by the way, the Sonic Team is REALLY proud of the homing attack, because there's a line of enemies to attack on every other corner, and you will NEED to do the attack in almost every level. Why are you so proud of that? It's not supposed to be here!
I know I keep talking about how this game isn't like the 2D Sonics, but it's really true. The graphics are cel-shaded 3D instead of 16-bit pixels, the music is more of that soft, easy-listening crap the new games are so full of, and the controls feel different. There's even a few parts where they obviously could have done something nostalgic, but they didn't. All the music is COMPLETELY new, but there's several songs I definitely would have liked to hear again. (like the invincibility song. Where did that go?) Where are the slot machines in the casino? Why is there a map screen? Why do most of the sound effects sound like the recent games? Where did Tails go? Why is Robotnik still called "Eggman?" I know these are getting nitpicky, but they add up. Little things like that would have been nostalgic, but they don't have any of them.
Maybe they didn't want to rely on nostalgia, but why bother making a throwback game with no nostalgia? Actually, I think they just didn't know what nostalgia is. All the stages seem aesthetically similar to Sonic 2 levels (possibly barring the final stage, which I never reached because I couldn't take it anymore.) yet none of them feel like the level they're imitating. For example, the Casino stage in Sonic 2 was riddled with slot machines, pinball flippers, and pinball bumpers. It kinda resembled a casino-themed pinball. Now, they have all these colored drums, cannons, bumpers, and, to a lesser extent, cards and dice. It feels more like a circus with a pinball/casino theme. All the levels feel weird compared with the old ones.
Speaking of cannons, every level has it's own stupid gimmick. Most of the time, Act 1 has no gimmicks, and Acts 2 and 3 are cluttered with them. Splash hill has vines, Casino has cannons, the Labyrinth had mine carts, and the Mad Gear, surprisingly, recycled all of its stuff from Metropolis (why did they choose the most annoying stage to recycle?). In short, it all feels like the acrobatic stuff Sonic's been doing in the 3D games. What was the thought process behind that? I thought this was supposed to be a throwback, not a lousy hybrid.
There is one good point about the game. It's not huge, but credit where credit is due, right? I'm talking about the Chaos Emerald special stages. They're a HUGE throwback to Sonic 1. It's the same spinning-maze deal as that game, with 2 differences. First, you move the stage, as opposed to it rotating at a set speed and direction. Second, there's a time limit and you have to collect little circles to increase your time. When I say "have to," I mean it. Special 3 starts you with around 30 seconds to get through the entire stage! I probably collected about 45 extra seconds, but I still just barely made it to the emerald. Also, I gotta mention, I got 3 emeralds in part 1, so that's a little confusing. Are we supposed to collect them all now? Maybe they don't carry over. Whatever. It's not a big problem, and I'm not about to get hung up over THAT when there's so much more.
This game was a major disappointment to me. After playing Mega Man 9 or New Super Mario Bros, I guess I was just expecting something true to the original. It feels like an old friend moved away 20 years ago, and now he's come back home, but he's not who I remember. Like, we used to play video games together, but now he's into....football or something. That's what this game is. And old friend who's changed too much. I guess it's the best Sonic game since Shadow the Hedgehog, (while it didn't feel like Sonic, it had it's own weird charm.) but that isn't saying much. I didn't go into this game comparing it to the new stuff; I went in comparing it the the retro games. In that respect, it's a failure.
My advice: don't bother with this game. 15$ is outrageous for this mediocre game. Oh wait....it's not even a whole game! 15$ for PART of a piece of crap? That's ludicrous. If you have a Wii, you can get Sonic 1, 2, 3, or Sonic and Knuckles for 8 bucks, so you can get any 2 of them for about the same price. On Xbox 360, 1, 2, and 3 are all 5 bucks (400 points) and Sonic and Knuckles is 3 bucks. (240 points) Sonic 2 and 3 both have multiplayer games that you can play online! I say, if you have an Xbox, get all of them for almost the same price! Any one of them would be way better than this, not to mention they all have about twice as many levels!
SHORT REVIEW: 4/10. Clunky controls, bland music and graphics, doesn't live up to the name. Go buy the others.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 10/22/10
Game Release: Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I (US, 10/11/10)
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