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Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 Review

Blake_Morse By:
GENRE Platformer 
E What do these ratings mean?

Dearest Sonic,

I know our relationship has had its ups and downs. You've had a lot of trouble finding yourself. Some days you're a lot like your old self, if not like Sonic 2 or 3, at least like Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast. Those were good times for us. I'd pick you up from a midnight launch and take you home so we could play on my Genesis, or I'd save up every penny I had to buy a Dreamcast so we could spend some quality time together and every once in a while we'd take in a show in the Casino Zone.

click to enlargeThen there were the dark times. Literally. Your “werehog” phase was horrendous, and not in the way you intended. It was like you were one of those sparkly vampires who are all over the place nowadays. I won't even bother bringing up the problems I had with you during your Black Knight period. Ugh.

It seemed like you were always running away from me, your dedicated, hardcore audience.

But now with Sonic 4 Episode 1, we seem to be turning a corner. You're older, wiser, and more comfortable with who you are and it shows. You're trying less to impress people by being something that you're not and concentrating on reaching your real potential, and I'm proud of you for it. You've gone back to 2D, and you should've never left in the first place. You are so much more fun this way. It makes perfect sense that you'd be enjoyable in this state.

But I still have some concerns. While your levels are great homages to some of our greatest moments in the past, such as sliding down The Aquatic Ruins waterfalls in Sonic 2 or playing slots in the Casino Zones of practically any of your titles, there's not much to them. You're not pushing me or challenging me the way you used to. Sure, your boss fights are the highlight of Sonic 4 and some of the toughest I've ever seen, but there are only five of those and at a few points they seem to confuse difficulty with cheapness or frustration. Still, it is more enjoyable than anything else we've played from you recently.

Even though your physics have improved, you still have control issues. You can tweak jumps more than you've ever been able to and the addition of the homing jump move from your 3D endeavors makes sense. Still, it feels like they weren't thought out well enough. The way hitting jump twice just neutralizes any mid-air progress lead to some tough times. Times that wouldn't have been so tough if your jumping skills were just slightly more like they were back in your heyday.

click to enlargeAnd while your levels are now in vibrant HD color and design, they're not innovative. Everything is flat and uninspired, like you'd just clicked on the Paint bucket to fill in everything.

And what's up with your new look? Your hair is way out of control and you seem to have lost a lot of weight. Have you been doing meth? Cocaine? I know you live a fast-paced lifestyle, but you need to take care of yourself. You can't let yourself dwindle away to nothing.

I was also a bit forlorn by your lack of bonus rounds at your checkpoints, but I'm willing to forgive this transgression since your chaos emerald bonus round at the end of the level is such a great take on the one that you had in Sonic 3.

You've come a long way, made some mistakes, and now you're trying to make amends for them. It shows a great amount of maturity on your part to admit that you're flawed and can be better a perso-er-hedgehog, but you've still got a long way to go before things are back to the way they were between you and me. At least you're taking steps in the right direction. Let's hope you keep it up in Episode 2.

P.S. Your son keeps asking me when daddy is coming home and I don't know what to tell him anymore, you bastard!
B- Revolution report card
  • Back in 2D where you belong
  • Tough bosses
  • Old-school love
  • Visually, not epic
  • Controls need improvement

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Also known as: sonic 4

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