Up, Over and To Be Continued!
10/10/14 at 00:27 EST

At long last, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is upon us. Sega once again attempts to break the Sonic Cycle, and the big question is: did they?

Well, kind of.

I don't know if it's fair to say they broke the Sonic Cycle. It's more like they stepped outside the Sonic Cycle for the entire development process. Sonic 4 is essentially a couple zones from Sonic 1 and a couple zones from Sonic 2 mashed together and then reshaped into new layouts. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 (Episode 1, I should specify, because Sega wants to milk this thing if it succeeds and abandon it if it flops) is a very safe game - very little has been "re-invented" here, and even less has been created - to my recollection, there are no original enemies - all the badniks are taken out of Sonic 1 and Sonic 2, which only makes the four zones feel like re-hashes of their respective Genesis zones.

Gameplay feels very reminiscent of Sonic 1, with the addition of that air dash thing that came into play once Sonic went 3D. I was a little reluctant to accept that idea at first, but it didn't take much time to warm to the idea - it gives the player a greater feeling of being in control of Sonic, and not just an observer to his unique world of physics. Of course, it also slows the flow of the game down a bit when chaining attacks together and adds to the "Sonic on rails" feeling that Hog of War's daytime stages certainly had, but those are flaws for the blue streak - Super Sonic can just slam into enemies crotch first and carry on his merry way.

So is it a good game for fans of the Sonic the Hedgehog series? In my opinion, I'd have to say yes. The game is essentially void of ideas new to the Sonic the Hedgehog series, barring that air dash thingy, but in a way, that's okay - Sega's been failing to produce a successor to Sonic and Knuckles for over 15 years, so a step in the right direction is acceptable - it doesn't have to be a leap. It's understandable that expectations for Sega and Sonic Team are lower than that of, say, Capcom, who were able to throw Mega Man back home as if he'd never left the NES, and Nintendo, who were able to re-invent their classic gameplay in such a way that it feels nostalgic and original at the same time.

I'm just happy to have a side-scrolling, pathway-branching, ring-grabbing, Super-Sonic-Unleashing, speed-running, Eggman-cracking platformer again. Collect 7 chaos emeralds, collect 50 rings, go Super Sonic, and wreck the place. That's all I'm after. It's not hard.

As of this post, I managed to secure the world's 10th-fastest run of Splash Hill Zone Act 1...assuming all leaderboards are unified and not segregated. 10th-fastest PS3 run in the world, at the very least. For now.

Oh, my accomplishments are meager and lacking at best.

Well, after about 5 hours of gameplay in the span of two days, I decided to call it quits and start practicing the dusty ol' drums again. I've got a set-list to play some time next month and I'm horribly out of practice. Baby steps, baby steps.
Tagged under: gaming, music
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