Sonic the Hedgehog fans are hard to please. For years we have gone on and on about how we want a Sonic game that plays just like the Genesis games of the 90’s. Sega heard our cries and gave us Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 on October 7th 2010 and boy were the die hard Sonic fans angry. Most of the complaints were about the physics in the game and lack of momentum. While I do agree with those complaints, for me they were easily overlooked and I thought the game was enjoyable. Another turn off for some was that modern Sonic was used rather than classic Sonic, but that’s just being picky. Sonic is Sonic. I could understand if they made him purple and changed him into an aardvark but come on, he’s still blue, fast and still rocking those awesome red shoes. Despite the fan backlash, Sonic 4 Episode 1 was a commercial success selling over one million units so an Episode 2 was inevitable.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2 was developed by Dimps and Sonic team, and published by Sega. The story takes place just two months after the events of Episode 1. The Little Planet from Sonic CD makes its way back into earths orbit and Dr. Eggman plans to use it to power the new Death Egg mk. II. During this time, Dr. Eggman finds Metal Sonic who has survived his defeat on the Star Dust Speedway. Eggman quickly repairs him and makes him more powerful so as to take on his nemesis Sonic. Sonic reunites with his old buddy Miles “Tails” Prower and the two set off in Tails airplane the “Tornado” to the Sylvania Castle Ruins.
You’ll spend your time running and jumping through five different zones, each consisting of three acts and a boss act. Sure this doesn’t sound like much but keep in mind both episodes are supposed to be one big game. Game play is very similar to the “one button” use like the Genesis games. The X button makes you jump and pressing down and the X button allows you to perform the spin dash attack. One of the biggest additions to the game is Tails. Sure he was in Sonic 2 through Knuckles, but there is more of a team focus this time around. You’ll come across obstacles that require Tails to pick Sonic up and fly him to unreachable heights. This is done by simply tapping the square button while in the air. There is also a move where the two can roll into a ball to perform a fast and powerful spin attack. This allows you to smash through walls and is executed by simply tapping square while you are both on the ground. Tails serves more of a purpose this time around rather than just tagging along and getting in your way.
Episode 2 is a huge nod to Sonic the Hedgehog 2. After all, it has now been twenty years since the games debut. Just seeing the title screen for the first time put a huge grin on my face as it’s almost identical to Sonic 2s title screen. Even some enemies from Sonic 2 make an appearance; Clucker, Chop-Chop and Turtloid to name a few. A Sonic game wouldn’t be a Sonic game without the seven Chaos Emeralds. You acquire these by collecting fifty or more rings and jumping into the big ring at the end of an act. This takes you to a bonus stage right that is right out of Sonic 2. Sonic and Tails are running down a ramp and you have to collect a certain amount of rings before each checkpoint. Unlike Sonic 2s bonus, they added a power up than connects Sonic and Tails with a rope so you can collect rings easier. There are also springs scattered about that take you down an alternate ramp to collect even more rings. Collecting all seven emeralds allows you to turn into Super Sonic just like previous Sonic games.
If you own both episode 1 and 2 on the same console you’ll unlock “Episode Metal“. This is a nod to Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles “Lock on technology”. In Episode Metal you get to see Eggman fix Metal Sonic and then you set off in pursuit after Sonic. You play through four acts which are reworked acts from episode 1. It’s interesting to see how he was repaired and how he caught up to Sonic and Tails and granted it is a free bonus for owning both episodes, but I felt it could have been a little more.
One of the biggest additions is co op, both local and online. You and a friend team up to see how fast you can complete each stage. If your Sonic, its not so bad as double tapping the jump button gives you a boost in speed. This of course leaves the other person behind but luckily they can quickly catch up with a of the X button. I found myself doing this a lot when I was Tails as double tapping the jump button makes his fly and Sonic will run on by. There are also is online leader boards as well to share your best times and scores with the world or your friends.
Overall Sonic 4 Episode 2 was a great Sonic experience. Granted it still doesn’t play like the Genesis games but that doesn’t mean it’s horrible. Sega listened and the physics are more like the old games but he still lacks momentum. Holding forward on the d pad should make Sonic stay at a fast speed but at times he would slow down to a slow jog. He is also able to just walk up walls and loops with no speed. All that is easily overlooked as the game is beautiful and the soundtrack was amazing. Sonic games are known for their soundtracks and Episode 2 does not disappoint. I found myself stopping a lot and taking in the scenery, especially on the night parts in Sylvania Castle Ruins. It’s time for us Sonic fans to get off of our high horses (me included) and just enjoy what we got. Thank you Sega for a fun experience and here’s to Episode III.
- Great soundtrack as most Sonic games have
- Classic Sonic game play with corrected physics
- High replay value
- Tails is useful this time around and adds to the game play
- Beautiful level design
- Lack of momentum
- Not given the option to play as Sonic or Tails alone
Note: This review was done using the PSN version. It is also available on XBLA, iOS and the Android Marketplace.