Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Video Game Demo Review #1: Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I

Oh Sonic, it's good to have you back.

If there has been one video game series that has had the hardest time transitioning from 2D to 3D with consistant quality, it has to be Sonic.

Coming off the greatness (and some may call the greatest) that was "Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles", Sonic transitioned after a long period of time (4+ Years) to 3D with "Sonic Adventure", which while a departure was still pretty good. But then time went by and Sega seemed to forget what made Sonic appeal to the mass market.

Don't get me wrong, there have been some good Sonic games since. Like the 2D series on Gameboy Advance with "Sonic Advance" and on Nintendo DS with "Sonic Rush", but 3D Sonic games have always been either "almost great" ("Sonic Storybook Series") or "piss poor" ("Sonic the Hedgehog" (2006) which is for an article for another time). It wasn't until "Sonic Unleashed" till Sega seemed to get it right, at least half-right.

"Sonic Unleashed" was the "Dr. Jekel & Mr. Hyde" of the Sonic Series, as in the game, Sonic is cursed by a mixture of power from the Earth & the "Dragonball-esque" Chaos Emeralds, causing him to become a Werewolf at night. This split the game two ways, Day Stages & Night Stages.

Night Stages, you were WereSonic and attacked baddies in a seeming mixture of Capcom's "Final Fight Streetwise" and Sega's "Ristar". But the Day Stages is where Sega finally got the support of fans saying "Yeah, more of this!"

Day Stages played in a mix of the "Sonic Storybook Series" On-Rails 3D Platforming & "Sonic the Hedgehog 1-3 & Knuckles" old school Side Scrolling 2D Platforming. Seeing the fan reaction of the Day Stages, Sega finally figured out how to appeal to everyone. A 3D Platformer in the style of the "Sonic Unleashed" Day Stages, which they call "Sonic Colors" (Look for a Review of that demo too once it's available). As well as a return to the "Sonic 1-3 & Knuckles" only style gameplay with the continuation of the "original story" with "Sonic the Hedgehog 4".

This time with "Sonic 4" they decided to expand on the "Sonic 3 & Knuckles" style storytelling by making separate increments of the story. You see, Sonic 3 & Knuckles were released separately as "Sonic the Hedgehog 3" & "Sonic & Knuckles" which could be locked onto together to make "Sonic 3 & Knuckles". With "Sonic 4" there will be 3 "episodes" of the game, with the first episode now available.

So now with the backstory out of the way (Man the took longer than I thought), let's review the game's demo.

"Sonic 4" play a lot like "Sonic the Hedgehog 1", "Sonic Advance", & "Sonic Rush" with themes and baddies in the style of "Sonic the Hedgehog 2". You only play as Sonic, no Tails, no Knuckles, no Shadow, just Sonic. You Run, you jump, you dash, you free your animal friends, and figure your way to the end of the stage. In the full game, you repeat this ad nauseum, occasionally fighting Dr. Eggman (The Villain of the series), and occasionally trying to get a Chaos Emerald. It's repetitive but it's fun, much in the same way as Sonic's Rival Mario. It's good old fashioned fun.

The controls are looser than the games that "Sonic 4" is trying to harken back to, but it makes up for it with the Homing Attack, allowing for more ease for getting where you need to go. The graphics look great, not as great as the fan made HD remake of "Sonic 2", but still pretty good. The music tried hard to bring the melodies of the old games, but as I've heard with the other songs in the game, it isn't too great. The sounds are heavily recycled from "Sonic 1-3 & Knuckles" & "Sonic Adventure", but that makes it nostalgic.

Overall, it does what it's advertised as and does a not bad job of it. I look forward to "Sonic the hedgehog 4 Episode II" to see if they fix some of the complaints some may have with the game.

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