It's the revival you've all been waiting for!!! Sonic The Hedgehog 4 is one of those games that everybody has been waiting for, especially the Sonic fanboys who think all of the games should be like the Genesis originals. Now, I thought they had something going on with the daytime stages of Sonic Unleashed, but nope, this new one decided to be completely 2D with (botched) 3D graphics. Personally, I think it's a bitch move, but then again, Sonic Team isn't doing this - some company I've never heard of called Dimps is. The actual execution is okay with some stupid mistakes really preventing it from being awesome overall.
Where can we go from Sonic 3? After having destroyed a lot of Eggman's stuff, Sonic is on a break, but it's not long before Eggman spoils it for him. Now it's up to Sonic to stop Eggman. Not much else to it, so let's move on.
Just like the good old days. Sonic can do his usual running and jumping that he's well known for doing... all the time. There are segments where you'll need to make some carefully timed jumps, and an entire level where you must traverse slowly in the dark... call the latter a gimmick if you must, but I think it's kind of cool. You're basically exploring a dark cave, and of course you can't blaze at 999mph – what if you miss your mark? The other level designs feel like they were ripped straight off of the Genesis trilogy, but eh, they not only retain their nostalgic quality, but aren't designed too badly. Aside from the fact that three levels in a row have pits at the exact same points, they're traversable...
Gravity is Sonic's bitch! However, all is not rosy in the world of Mobius. The physics engine is all whacked out, as if Mobius's gravity had been changed. Sonic has trouble gaining momentum quickly, and also has trouble gradually losing it if you stop holding the d-pad – he just stops. This isn't Super Mario Brothers where you don't run that fast, this is Sonic The *bleep*ing Hedgehog where you run like your ass is on fire! There has to be a gradual decrease, or it doesn't feel right! Oh, and slopes might as well be flat platforms, because Sonic just stops no matter what angle he's on. Even on loops, he doesn't fall or anything. I honestly don't know how the hell you could screw this up, because I'm pretty sure – and bare with me on this one, guys – every other game developer with a decent reputation knows how to make a competent physics engine!
Designed while Dimps were high. There are some other parts that just plain piss me off. The Special Stages, for instance, make me want to drown puppies. It's like a pinball machine designed as a labyrinth that has walls which rotate constantly... well, it perfectly describes what happens, because all you're doing is bouncing off walls while rotating them. It's like Sonic 1's annoying ass piece of shit Special Stages, but even crappier! How does that work?
Bosses are even worse off, and that's for two reasons – 1) Because the hit detection is about as consistent as a teacher's care for their students, and 2) Because they're basically like their Genesis counterparts if they were as interesting as a wet paper towel. But what's this, an extra attack? I'm not impressed, because it's easy to avoid, unless you suck at video games.
In fact, this entire game feels too easy. It's like you don't really need to try. Oh, there are moments that are cheap - and I'll go into the main perpetrator later – in a vain attempt to insert difficulty, but fails, because it just plain pisses you off, and it doesn't feel all too rewarding to actually finish a level. Thankfully, the last level tries to be difficult and surprisingly, it succeeds, and turns the pacing from monotonously easy to unpredictable, like you didn't expect actual challenge at the end! Just... too little, too late.
Homing attacks make their way into the fold, and as useful as it is to eliminate enemies and hit ring/speed bonus/shield/1up boxes from a distance like in the 3D games, it leaves you vulnerable. It's at its worst here, because you're only limited to two dimensions, and it leaves you uncurled, therefore, very vulnerable... see, the camera is zoomed in just a touch too much, and because of that, you can't see much below you, so if you were to do a homing attack and move one direction, guess what you could be landing on? Enemies! Guess what happens when you hit enemies? You either lose rings, or DIE! Yeah, cheap bullshit deaths, all because you didn't see that enemy coming!
Least they try here... The presentation for Sonic 4 is... meh. The graphics aren't quite what you'd expect for a Sonic game, especially after Sonic Unleashed. What we get here are some very nice colors that actually entice you into paying attention! They just feel so lush, vibrant and full of life, that you end up thinking “nothing could POSSIBLY go wrong”, then you pay a little attention to the details, and notice that Sonic and every other thing – robot, object, loop, and what have you – have some pretty damn jaggy edges, like something out of an early Nintendo 64 or PS1 game. This clashes poorly with the colors, because the edges are just abrupt and, well, unappealing to look at. This might sound silly, but I thought it wrecked the graphics... like, didn't we get past jagged edges about 9 years ago? Seriously!
As for the music, it's not quite there either. Although they're not an assault to the senses, they're not much to write home about either. They're remixed versions of the Genesis trilogy's songs, but for the life of me, I can't seem to remember just how. It's like as if they just zoom past your head and all around the room, never finding the earholes, which is a shame, because it could've made for a damn fine soundtrack. Nothing ultimately interesting, to be honest.
Crappy game for crappy fanboys. You know, when you think of revival, you'd often think of something that'd really kick the gears into motion, not something that makes Sonic 06 look okay in comparison! This isn't the worst Sonic game I've ever played, but given what's able to be experienced in this game, I just hope they don't screw up Episode 2 this badly. Poor gameplay and poor physics engine really kill it, and I just hope that Dimps figures out how to program for consoles before they're torn to pieces by yours truly.
Scores: Story: 7/10 Not much on offer, though it at least makes it feel more like a Genesis platformer, so... meh. Gameplay: 4/10 It's like the original Sonic games, though it doesn't feel as good as them. Physics engine is *bleep*ing awful. That, and the Special Zones made me want to kill puppies. Sonic also takes forever to get running - not good for basic level design! Controls 7/10 The stick and buttons respond finely. Just feels like Sonic is on the moon when he runs. Graphics: 5/10 Oh man, at face value, it looks so blocky and unappealing, like an N64 game, almost! The colors are nice, lush and vibrant, so that balances it out. Sound: 7/10 Sounds good, but nothing interesting in the end.