Sonic 4 – Lets make Episode 2 perfect

I’m not going too write a second, conventional review for Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1. We already have a good review by Barry covering the iPad version of the game. His review touches upon most what you need to know about all versions of the game and I feel I’d just be echoing most of what he has already written.

Instead I want to make a list of all of the things that, after finishing Sonic 4 (and getting almost all of the achievements) I feel could be fixed or improved for Sonic 4 Episode 2.

So, hit the jump for my Sonic 4 Episode 2 improvment rundown!

When playing the demo on the Xbox360 I will admit I did hesitate to put down what is around £10 for the game. I mulled it over and as it was my birthday on the 13th I decided, what the hell, I’ll treat myself. (Or not.)

My first impressions were mixed, but I’ll just come out and say it. I really have enjoyed Sonic 4 Episode 1. The music is hit and miss, while some are very forgettable others are easily as hum-able as the classics. The level design is where the game really shines. Most levels have their own little gimmicks that set them aside from the others, loads of paths to discover, hidden areas and altogether complex level designs like the original series.

The art direction rides a very thin line between beautiful and a bit tacky, but it more then gets the job done. Visual effects look good and animations are pretty good too.

But Sonic himself is where the biggest problems lay and this is where I will start my list.

Sonic  swings into action… Nope, I couldn’t think of a better caption.

A slow start

When Sonic starts moving from a stationary position, his walk animation is a bit clunky but worst than that it feels like he is moving though honey or something. It takes him far to long to get going. This is an issue I think Sonic Team really needs to look into as the same problems seem to accrue in Sonic Colours. I would like too see some kind of radical changes to Sonics ‘slow’ game play in future games. Ideally Sonic should be as responsive and easy to control as Mario in Galaxy when moving slowly.

Jumping and Uncurling

Like many of these issues I got used to the jump animation and the uncurling pretty quickly. However unlike the homing attack at no point did I actually begin to think these were good additions to the game. I would like the Jump animation in Episode 2 to be more like the animation for spindash. With a perfectly round circumference so it doesn’t look wonky.

Boring backgrounds

While I generally enjoy the look and feel of the game, bar a few bits and pieces that looks kind of ‘cheap’ I must say I find the backgrounds kind of boring. I’m not asking for anything major. But I wouldn’t mind seeing some set pieces making the back ground livelier in some of the levels. For example maybe the end of zone boss stomping/flying/shooting at things in the environment, or more beautiful scenery. Splash Hill zone was particularly lacking.

Pretty exciting!

Yes, length does matter!

I speed though every zone in Sonic 4 in about 2 and a half hours. I enjoyed it a lot. But I don’t think I got enough out of it to warrant that price tag. Don’t get me wrong the replay value and collecting all the Chaos Emeralds and such can make the game much longer but two more Zones wouldn’t have hurt at all. In fact 6 Zones with 3 acts each would have felt just right for me.

More new, less old please!

When we said we wanted Sonic 4 to be like the classics, we didn’t mean the same levels but with new names. I want to visit brand new locations in Episode 2.  I don’t mind bringing back some of the old badniks but I would like to see them amongst brand new ones. There was not a single new badnik design in Sonic 4 and that is very depressing. Almost as bad as these new fangled ‘Egg Pawns’ the good Doctor seems intent on creating these days.

Those physics…  (surprise suprise)

This is the single most off-putting thing about Sonic 4. Forget everything you have ever complained about this game. The physics NEED to be improved. I find it very strange that, when holding a directional button the physics feel almost perfect. Remove your finger from the directional pad however and suddenly strange things start to happen, like Sonic will come to an abrupt halt mid jump or come to a stop far too quickly. Not to mention when you are on a hill gravity seems to have little to no effect unless you are holding the directional pad. It’s very jarring and needs to be fixed. NEEDS.


A good showcase of the original Sonic physics.

Finally four small additions I think would make the next chapter that much better.

The first is the option to turn off the Homing Attack… Now honestly this one is the least of my worries. I found that if I wanted to go with out using it I could but mostly I actually enjoyed the addition and thought it brought a lot to the table. No different then the addition of Spin Dash in Sonic 2.

The second the addition of a classic Sonic model. Again not a big problem for me. I can’t say I am that passionate about the character design and I honestly think the model they introduced in Sonic unleashed and go on to use in Colours is the best yet. But I know many others feel different.

The third; A two player, split screen race mode would be a treat. Preferably online but offline is fine by me.

Finally, I would love to see some kind of level creation mode. Something like Little Big Planet where Sonic fans can create their own levels and share them online with friends. This was already done on a small scale in Sega’s online game portal ‘Play Sega’ and was quite good. I don’t expect to see this in Episode 2 but maybe one day?

Sonic Level Creator from PlaySega

Before I conclude this article I feel like I must stress how much I have actually enjoyed Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1. For all of its faults the game is genuinely great fun and more then once did I feel like I was being transported back to my youth. When Episode 1 is good it is really good. But it could be much better too. Here’s hoping for Episode 2.

Feel free to tell us what improvments you would make to Episode 2!

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15 responses to “Sonic 4 – Lets make Episode 2 perfect

  1. Good write up! I agree with most all of this. While the listed improvements would be awesome, the game as is is great fun. Still, with the dev team relying of feedback, I'm certain many complaints will be addressed.

    I'd like episode 2 to have: tweaked physics (overhaul isn't necessary), unique new zones, Tails, episode 1 lock-on

  2. George says:

    Man, you are going to hate me because I'm doing a Sonic 4 Episode 1 review. Go ahead, bitch me out.

  3. Orta says:

    "I found that if I wanted to go with out using it I could"

    lol I DARE you to beat the game without using it. If you can, which is impossible.

    Either way, "turning off" the homing attack would require a massive mechanics redesign. Changing the physics too. Knowing Sonic Team that is probably not going to happen, they will just build on the existing technology and justify themselves with metacritic scores.

    The slow start and uncurling are easily fixable I would imagine. Sonic is a lot less stiff in the Ipod version. Removing the uncurling might be a little different, the uncurling is there to force the player to use the homing attack in a number of sections. If they don't design the damn game around it like Episode I then it could work.

  4. matty says:

    Orta is right, turning off the homing attacks in a game where it was designed for its use almost constantly… it could get ugly. I agree with you, though, I would prefer they scrape it for the next game.

    The small additions you mentioned would make the game big to me. I'm sure Sega used Ep. 1 as a re-introduction to fans with some changes to see how they'll react, and I'm sure they start rolling out with the 'real' new zones in the next one. They seem to have designed this with absolute fan feedback. They kind of mentioned that as the series goes on they'll keep tabs on what people are saying/shouting, so I think just about anything is totally open. But, we'll see.

    As I said in the review, I would have liked to have seen zones like Azure Lake and Endless Mine become full fledged levels. It would have been a nice throwback to old fans and they already look so beautiful.

  5. Ali says:

    I agree with every point.

    I hope they change the movement when Sonic is in the air and is falling. I like the old rotating feets in the air more then this static animation. A episode 1 lock-on would be a clever move, so they could improve downloads on the first episode when episode 2 comes out.

  6. Sybnios says:

    The only thing I agree is with new fresh levels, not that the refurnished older ones weren't marvelous and fun but I would like something new! Everyone made such a fuss about the physics for NO reason at all! You are missing the point there dudes! The point is that Sonic 4 with the current physics is a remarkable game!

  7. Sharky says:

    @Orta, Apart from the 'bridges' which were never the problem ANYONE had with the homing attack in the first place.

    Which only goes to show I don't think half of you know what you are moaning about anymore.

    As it happens after actually finishing the game a few times now I think the Homing Attack is actually the best new addition to 2D Sonic since the Spin Dash and has the same effect. It makes the gameplay flow much better.

  8. Autosaver says:

    @Sharky

    Get those shields up!

  9. Sharky says:

    I don't need a shield. I've been dealing with mouth breathing man-babies that have an internet superiority complex pretty well with out one.

    Especially in the Sonic fanbase… Jesus christ there’s enough toolboxes that think their opinion is more relevant then anyone else’s to shake a stick at.

    The kind of people that think 'LOL' 'Fail' or '/Thread' is a good counter-argument with regards to other peoples opinion fit that category to a T.

  10. Grant360 says:

    I am really stuck with Sonic now. I replayed S&K and it feels so much better than Sonic 4, it needs fresh locations and better physics and gravity. One of the hideous things about 3D sonics were the cut scenes but I actually found the S&K ones perfect. They did just enough to make a narrative. Also being able to select every level after 1 act. Part of the joy of beating a boss would be the what's next factor. Ok make all acts replayable once you complete them.

    I have stuck by Sonic but Colours had better be awesome!

  11. Sega Uranus says:

    My big issue is with the physics. If they were fine in Sonic the Hedgehog 4, I would not mind anywhere near as much as I do.

    The homing attack is only an issue because levels are designed with it in mind and it makes the spindash and general rolling just pointless. If it was an extra, like if you needed a blue sheild to use it, I would actually like that.

    The graphics of the first episode are awful I think, they will not change this in the second episode, but there are going to most likely have more original art. As long as it is Sonic-y, I do not mind I guess.

    Outside of the physics, they need to fix the sound design. It is the second worst part of the game. Almost all of the music is terrible and low quality and a few of the sounds are wrong (rolling is mixed up with the spindash). Another big issue are the gimmicks, they are bad in Episode I. Whole acts should not be about one concept. The special stages suck and need to change/not be longer than the levels/not be able to restart them when you are in them. The level progression is done shitty, you should not be able to access the end of the game right from the start. Rolling was pointless in the first, they need to fix this because that was why Sonic was designed as a hedgehog to begin with.

    There are tons of other stuff you missed too, but I do not really care. I expect Episode II to be better, but it is not going to be a big change, I am sure.

  12. daisukeumon says:

    Where is that screen shot from below the backgrounds part of this article? It looks awesome.

  13. jotenko says:

    PLEASE don't forget the cut scenes 🙂

  14. peaceful_gamer says:

    i believe you also forgot to mention how the spin dash is slower than sonic just running in sonic 4! in the old games the spin dash was always ridiculously faster than just average running speed, and the way sonic uncurls in the air after going off one of the ramps, very annoying……

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