Sonic bounces back to Android, but this time he’s got all new digs.
Sonic 4 is positioned as the 2010 sequel to the 1994 game: Sonic & Knuckles. This gives the game some pretty big shoes to fill before you’ve even looked past the game’s title. Since the pre-3d era of Sonic games is nearly unanimously recognized as being the pinnacle of the series, setting this latest game as their direct sequel is, in a word: bold. There’s been a definite effort to make Sonic 4 feel like a true sequel to the original games, with its completely 2D playing angle, Sonic 1 special stages and familiar enemies and areas, but somehow things feel just a bit off.
While the angle might be 2D, Sonic is created in full 3D along with many other objects in the game. These new 3D graphics are right in your face and proud with a constant up close view of view of Sonic that never makes you feel as if your getting a wide enough view of the action. The quality of the 3D art is also inconsistent. If you were to take any single piece of art from the game it then it appears fine but when everything comes together it doesn’t flow together and match up like it should, mostly in regards to lighting and shading effects.
The art style isn’t the only thing that makes Sonic 4 not feel like a true sequel as there’s been some subtle changes to the physics and the way that Sonic handles. These issues might not mean much to new players, but the original Genesis games have a feel to them and there was a way in that you expect Sonic to control and behave. Changes such as adding more momentum and animation to Sonic’s movements make him feel sluggish and other changes such as the rolling attack slowing you down means that you have to change the way you approach some situations. These changes to Sonic’s behavior are baffling in a game that tries so hard to bring back to what people loved about the early Sonic games.
The levels themselves vary sharply in quality. Earlier levels pay homage to Hill Zone stages and show off some of the best levels the game has to offer but through the twelve stages there’s some sharp low points; such as a accelerometer based mine-cart level and a small single room pinball level. There is the option to play through these levels in any order, but you’ll have to beat the three levels in a zone to unlock the boss level and then beat all those to unlock the final boss. There is of course chaos emeralds to collect, which are found in special stages and taking the time to collect all these will grant you the power to turn into Super Sonic and unlock different ending.
It’s hard to understand some of the choices made in Sonic 4 Episode I and it appears that many of these issues have been noticed by Sega and will be resolved in Episode II. For now however, Episode I is not a great example of a Sonic platform game or even a great example of the genre. If you’re looking for a great example of both then you absolutely must check out Sonic CD: AndroidSPIN’s platform game of 2011.
When you’re ready, head over to the Android Market and download this game by clicking or scanning the QR Code below.
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