Round Table: Our thoughts on Sonic 4: Episode II

If you can believe it, it’s actually been over a year and a half since the first episode of the polarizing Sonic the Hedgehog 4 series of games hit digital download services. But after what felt like an eternity, the adventure can finally be continued. And what did the good ol’ SEGAbits staff think of the long-in-development Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II and the reception it has received so far? Read on to find out, and don’t forget to comment and leave your own thoughts on the game below!

Shadineko’s Thoughts

When I first heard of Episode II being announced, it didn’t surprise me… but at the same time, I wasn’t all that excited. I am happy to say that I think Sonic 4 Episode II is a really good game! I think it’s more fun than Classic Sonic in Sonic Generations, personally…

I love the graphics, they are so pretty… Especially the snow levels! I love to play the snow levels and just look at the background. Of course the other levels look good too, but I have a soft spot for winterish levels, so yeah…

Anyways, the gameplay… um.. it’s fun! The combo moves are fun, flying is fun, most of the music is good, rolling is fun. Only problem with rolling is that your speed is limited, I’m guessing that’s because of the co-op mode, cause if you were in co-op and had unlocked speed, someone would be getting left behind. Having the speed locked allows you to run by your partner’s side in co-op mode with little issues.

I’ve been playing this a lot with my friend MrFranklin, and it takes practice to do good runs in co-op mode. Almost everything is harder, but it’s fun, since you’re playing with another human. On a side note, it’s sometimes fun to troll the person you’re playing with when you play as Tails; occasionally I’d slam him into a fish in the water, or some spikes =)

Conclusion being… Sonic 4 Episode II is a really fun game, and you will enjoy it if you aren’t anal about physics.

Shigs’ Thoughts

Episode II has a lot to deal with. The first episode was loved by critics mainly because it was the first 2D Sonic game in HD, but it was torn apart by fans who lambasted every piece of it. Obviously this affects how the critics see the second game and they are being more aware of any flaws they see (hence, the lower scores it’s been getting). This saddens me, because Episode II is an improvement over the first in most respects. The physics work great, the levels are larger, more challenging and more original, and the bosses are definitely more original and tough. Hell, Sky Fortress is actually a better zone than the Genesis original it’s based on!

However, I say “most respects” because I still think there are a few elements Episode I did better. While the soundtrack by Jun Senoue seems to use a few more instruments in its chiptuning and has a more “Genesis” feel, it’s also bland and unmemorable for the most part. I actually preferred his music in Sonic 4-1 more (except boss battles.) Also, it’s missing a lot of the “flow” of classic Sonic games. It’s more about standard platforming and going through gimmicks than it is about a good mix of speed and platforming. While the new Tails gimmick is fun and easy to use, it also cheapens the game a bit. I never felt the need to spindash almost ever and that just feels odd.

That said, I still think it’s well worth its $15 price point and most Sonic fans should be much happier with this one compared to the last. Especially if you’re crazy like me and actually liked the first one. However, if you really loathed the first episode and hate homing attacks and boosters to no end, I doubt this one will change your mind enough to warrant a purchase.

Barry the Nomad’s Thoughts 

Since I’ll be reviewing the iOS version of Sonic 4 Episode II later this week, I thought I’d give my opinion on the many negative reviews for the game that have hit the internet. Yeah, I’m talking about the five out of tens out there. Really? Sonic 4 Episode II is a five out of ten game? They must have been playing the wrong Sonic game, perhaps they got Episode II confused with Episode I, because from what I’ve played the game is fun. And to me, “fun” does not deserve a five out of ten.

Perhaps the negative reviewers are trying to make up for the positive reviews they gave Episode I? I just don’t see why this game, which improves on so much of the first one, deserves such a low score. Is Sonic 4 Episode II what I imagined a Sonic 4 to be? No. But then again, I never imagined there to be a Sonic 4 after the release of Sonic Adventure. As a Sonic fan who started out on the classics (1991, baby!), I like Sonic 4 Episode II because it has so many elements that made me a fan of the series. And really, in the end, that is all I wanted from a 2D Sonic game made in 2012. A game that has the gameplay rules of the originals, but offers up just enough new elements to keep it unique.

To restate something I said on Friday’s podcast: I would pick up and play a game like Episode II over a game like Colors because Episode II is more true to what a “Sonic” game is to me.

My Thoughts 

Another year, another Sonic game. And yet even as I sit here, having written my review and, for all intents and purposes, having closed the vault on my Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II experience, I’m still a little uncertain about my thoughts on the whole “Sonic 4” thing.

Episode I was, to me, a complete disappointment. It was a game that left me with such strong feelings against it that it’s difficult to say whether my enjoyment of Episode II is even because of its virtues as a game; is it possible that my expectations were so lowered by the trainwreck that was its predecessor that I would have liked almost anything that improved upon it?

The fact is, I doubt I’ll ever know what I’d have thought of Episode II had Episode I not taken place, but what can I say? In spite of its endless underwater sections, pointless co-op, (sorry Shadi) and a soundtrack that calling a “mixed bag” is almost too much praise, I played through the short duration of Episode II with a grin on my face. The game, to me, captures some of the same feelings that I originally had back when I was a kid playing Sonic the Hedgehogs 2 and 3 on the Genesis, and that’s a huge compliment. It must be said though that Sonic 4, even if there is another episode, will never hit those heights entirely; DIMPS is simply not capable of developing a Sonic platformer like SonicTeam is, and Sonic 4 has, unfortunately, always been primarily their responsibility. But they listened to the fans and to their immense credit, when Episode II works, it really works.

White Park Zone is an example of a stage that feels both Sonic-y and yet truly fresh at the same time. Sky Fortress Zone took a concept from an earlier point in the series and really brought it to current-gen life. I thought the bosses were over the top and felt nothing like the bosses in any other Sonic the Hedgehog game, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. And though I can’t stand the Sonic/Tails spin dash move, their dynamic otherwise is exactly how you take an old mechanic and bring it up to speed. It’s in these features and ideas that Episode II comes into its own as an entirely new experience; not an imitator, but a true sequel, the type of thing that this project should have been to begin with.

Unfortunately, this is a digital release, and so the experience ends before you can even blink. It’s difficult for me to imagine how incredible a game like Episode II would have been with a bigger team and as a full retail release on the scale of something like Rayman Origins; it would have been the Sonic 4 that Sonic 4 deserved to be.

So it’s with mixed emotions that I embrace Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II for what it is; a bite-sized taste of what could have been. I enjoyed the game and am eager to play what will hopefully be an Episode III. But give us 8 zones, SEGA……..not just 4. Connect it with Episodes II and I (Episode I’s physics and controls improved, preferably) for a big “Sonic 3 and Knuckles”-sized adventure that we can truly sink our teeth into. It’s Sonic 4 that we’re talking about here….let’s go all out, eh, guys?


13 responses to “Round Table: Our thoughts on Sonic 4: Episode II

  1. sth88 says:

    I’ve really been enjoying Episode 2. Yeah, it’s got it’s faults; it’s physics still aren’t as good as the classics, Sky Fortress Act 1 kinda drags for a while, and the first two Eggman bosses, while interesting in concept, aren’t very enjoyable to play (especially with the short loop of the pinch remix playing over and over and over for five minutes).

    But those problems don’t outweigh the positives. The graphics are gorgeous, the level desgin has decent flow for most of the stages, the music is catchy and fun (I LOVE the track for White Park Act 2 in particular, with the Twinkle Park tune), the combo moves are fun and easy to perform, and the physics are noticeably better than those in Ep 1. It’s a short game, but I’ve enjoyed playing and replaying it over the last several days, and I expect this is a game I will be coming back to again and again over time.

    • Barry the nomad says:

      Have you tried online co-op? It’s pretty fun! I played with somebody and neither of us were us we’re using mics, so we mimed our actions. So if he wanted to turn back, he’d stop and hop about to get my attention. It was pretty funny.

    • sth88 says:

      Yeah, I tried it out; I didn’t think it complemented the gameplay, rather I think it made it a lot rougher and more difficult. Like you, I played with a random person online and neither of us used mics, and that made it all the more difficult (I was the guest playing as Sonic, and the other person was the host playing as Tails, for the record). It was especially challenging going through Sky Fortress Act 1 and the Sky Fortress Boss.

      All that being said, however, I did find a bit of enjoyment in the extra challenge, and in being forced to work together with a teammate. The feeling of accomplishment after beating certain stages was noticeably greater than after I had beaten them in single player. So even though I don’t think the gameplay itself benefitted from the co-op, I did find some good that came out of it, and I’ll probably try it again sometime.

  2. tenchibr says:

    I don’t care what anyone says, but putting all the BS aside, I believe the co-op in S4:EpII is the best multiplayer of ANY Sonic game I have ever played. I hope it never dies, and when you are playing with someone as good as yourself, and an obvious fan like yourself, there’s this connection I haven’t felt in any other Sonic game.

    For all its flaws, Episode II’s online co-op is the breakout star for me.

  3. Sybnios says:


  4. Chris K. says:

    Jun Senoue completely, horribly, utterly, totally, undeniably, sickeningly, disgustingly, irritatingly, revoltingly, SUCKS at making music using classic instruments.

    For Episode 3, simply hire the Dreams Come True musicians again along with the lead composer for Sonic 1 and 2 Naofumi Hataya. Or at least just one of the other. Pay them whatever they want and quit being cheap using some Japanese hillbilly rocker to make such ear bleeding 16 bit techno music.

  5. Crazytails says:

    Nsega made a good point. I also think having 1 crap episode, and now 1 decent episode with both just having 4 zones kind of ruining the full experience instead of having 1 great retail game. So now what if episode 3 is the best thing ever and has only 4 zones too. As a whole sonic 4 would just be 1/3 of a great game.

    Sonic 4 is a lost cause now imo and honestly i feel what theyve done with sonic 4 is disrespectful to where these games came from. The game lacks something very important, which is heart and I hope so much that someone could be finally aware over at SEGA.

  6. -nSega54- says:

    What I’m thinking is that DIMPS was simply hired to create a 2D Sonic game for the digital marketplace…and they had no intention of making a “Sonic 4” but some hotshots in the SEGA marketing department decided to call it that.

    The project should have been conceived from the start as Sonic 4, and then maybe things would have turned out differently. Why a game like Sonic 4 would be (essentially) outsourced just boggles my mind. Especially after we saw what a good job SonicTeam did with similar gameplay in Sonic Generations…

  7. Gagaman says:

    TBH I think the original intention of this series was to be their answer to New Super Mario Bros, and I’ve actually found myself enjoying the Sonic 4 series more than that, though that could be because I was never all that crazy on 2D Mario excluding World and Yoshi’s Island anyway.

    Had a lot of fun with this episode, there was one or two bits that were really quite cheap (White Park Act 3, you KNOW what part I mean) but otherwise the level design, graphics and dare I say even music (some of it has really grown on me, especially the last 2 zones of the game) is a vast improvement.

  8. stevetheman90 says:

    White Park Act 2 needs more love, a nod to Starlight Zone my favorite Sonic level!

  9. P4ul. says:

    Five out of ten is the perfect score for S4EII as it is an average game. Average is a five out of ten mark so it’s appropriate. How they’ve somehow managed to take a slightly above average game (EI) and make it worse is an amazing achievement though.

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