Now I’m playing Sonic Adventure so until then I decided to do something I’ve never done before…buying games from the PlayStation Network, first I brought After Burner Climax because it was going to be delisted on Christmas Eve, then I brought episodes one and two of Sonic the Hedgehog 4. Episode 1 was released on October 7th 2010, it was developed by Sonic Team and Dimps and published by Sega.
So Episode 1, well like The Phantom Menace, the experience is dang miserable from the beginning, the game is meant to be a follow-up to Sonic & Knuckles to which everyone in the world uttered the one word…”BULLS*%#!”, so classic Sonic just sporadically grew up in a space of a week, is he like a dog? Who knows; either way it’s a huge continuity error.
So Sonic has destroyed the Death Egg again and Sonic decides to explore new places on his own (probably whilst having growing pains). Meanwhile, Dr. Robotnik has been defeated…again, and he decides his next plan is to use his previous machines and improve upon them…even the story feels tacked on, and that’s not the only problem with the game. There are 4 stages in the game (probably more in episode 2), and all of them are rehashes of all the classic Sonic games, there is Splash Hill Zone (which is Green Hill Zone), Casino Street Zone, (which is Casino Night Zone), Lost Labyrinth Zone (YOU BROUGHT BACK LABYRINTH ZONE??? WHY?), and Mad Gear Zone (a cross between Scrap Brain Zone and Metropolis) then the final boss in the E.G.G. Station Zone.
So you play as Sonic (of course) and…here is where I realised that everything went wrong, first of all, the controls, they’re so sluggish and stiff, this is not the way Sonic is supposed to be controlled, but surprisingly you do get used to it, again it’s really weird. You still get the usual item boxes as the original,as well as the enemies make a return. You can do the homing attack when enemies are nearby, this can either save the game or break it, you can use this against enemies to get to higher platforms but sometimes the homing attack doesn’t work and you end up getting hit, it sometimes happens but it can be annoying, especially after all the rings I’ve collected.
The way Sonic runs and his speed is mediocre but what kills the experience is the physics, I know Sonic has managed to break physics 24/7, but here’s a scenario for you, there’s a slope, I spin dash (oh I forgot, you can do that), can’t even get to the top, do it a few times and almost give up, walk up the slope and I’m SOMEHOW SPIDER-MAN and I get to the top, this happens a lot in this game and it’s ridiculous. At one point I walk up a slope and stick to the wall while still walking, this was so jarring to me I filmed this bit and sent it to my friend and he wasn’t really surprised about it.
The bosses are uninspiring, once again taking bosses from the original Sonic games, but Robotnik’s machines do something different when you hit them a number of times. But they later become cheap and boring, the final boss is an irritating one since you have to follow many patterns, the fact that you can accumulate a high number of lives; in fact, I had over 20, then I played the final boss, all gone without ever beating it. Well one things for sure, this isn’t a casual game. Now the graphics and music…well graphics wise, as Dolly Parton once said “it takes a lot of money to look this cheap”, it’s poor, even for a downloadable, Sonic looks far too shiny and it really shows in bright areas, especially in Splash Hill Zone, the backgrounds are just lazy, in the original games at least the backgrounds had character, it had life, for example in Splash Hill Zone, the background consists of the ocean and the sky? Really? Remember to look at the background in Green Hill Zone from Sonic 1 and you’ll see a big difference.
The music…”It takes a lot of money to SOUND this cheap”, to make the experience more authentic long-time composer of the Sonic series Jun Senoue made Mega Drive-style music and it sounds awful and grainy and it sounds like Jun peed on the synthesiser, at least other composers put effort into the Sonic music, but I do like Dr. Robotnik’s boss music (shut up, I’m calling him Robotnik, every fan calls him Robotnik), well the first part since it sounds like a deranged circus, which is strangely fitting for him. Did you know? Dr. Robotnik’s theme was an unused piece from Sonic 3D.
The most irritating parts are the special stages, it’s a remake of the original special stages in Sonic 1, instead of controlling Sonic while the stages rotate, it’s the opposite, this is ok except for the red bumps, there mostly everywhere and they always bump you to a goal line before you can get a chaos emerald and this happens ALL THE TIME, but I shouldn’t moan since you can go back and try again in the menu,removing all challenge of the stages so trying to beat them will be based on luck rather than skill, but even then the stages are annoying. The level design is OK and it in true to the original, but why Dimps why do you need speed boosts IN EVERY LEVEL? Sonic 4 Episode 1 heavily relies on nostalgia and I don’t think it’s a good thing, but that’s another problem, Sonic fans are a salad mix, you can’t make any of them happy, even if the game is good, I’m not too fond of them, mostly because no two sonic fan like a game, you get reprimanded for liking one they don’t, you get reprimanded for not liking one they like.
So far, this is a near broken mess of a game, Sega made this game so it would feel like you were playing the original, trying to improve upon the gameplay, well, the graphics are poor, the gameplay is nothing like the original, the music is awful, why improve on a formula that worked all the time, you didn’t need to improve it. They wanted to emulate the classics but they added new features that were never in the original like the homing attack and Sonic’s modern design, it’s like they wanted to make a classic Sonic game but were too afraid to make a classic Sonic game because they wanted to market it to everyone, old and new fans but alienate the old fans, in my opinion, you should only make a game true to the original FOR THE ORIGINAL FANS.
But what I realised that the people who originally worked for the Sonic Team left and new people worked for Dimps so they don’t fully understand what made the originals perfect, even Yuji Naka didn’t come back for this. It doesn’t even feel like a proper sequel because it relies on remade levels of original games, I think they did this because Mario was going back to platformers in the New Super Mario Bros Series. So I don’t like Episode 1, and of course I’m going to get reprimanded for not liking it. So unfortunately…bring on Episode 2.
You can get it on iOS, WiiWare, PlayStation Network, PC via Steam and Xbox Live Arcade, Windows Phone 7, Android, Blackberry Playbook and Ouya.