Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II (PSN)
Sonic 4: Episode I was mediocre, as we know. SEGA and Sonic Team heard our feedback. Has Episode II fixed what Episode I got wrong?
If you remember Sonic 4.1, it was a mediocre game for hardcore Sonic fans, due to the game's physics, art and music in overall. And thus, SEGA listened to our feedback, our critiques, and most of our analisys (or rants, whichever fits). Thus, Sonic 4: Episode II was made, and promised to be better than its prequel. Was the "better" achieved? Read on further to find out.
Game: Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II
Developer: Sonic Team, Dimps
Released: 15th May, 2012 (PSN US|Steam); 16th May, 2012 (PSN EU/JP|Xbox Live); 17th May, 2012 (iOS); 26th June, 2012 (Android); July 2012 (Windows Phone)
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 3
Price: $12.99 (PSN/Steam, US) | 12,99€ (PSN/Steam, EU) | £9.99 (PSN/Steam, UK) | 1200 MSP (Xbox Live) | $6.99 (Mobile, US) | £4.99 (Mobile, UK) | 5,99€ (Mobile, EU)
Sonic 4: Episode II (Sonic 4.2, for short) was made to make people know that Sonic Team and Dimps wanted to redeem themselves from the poor attempt that Sonic 4.1 was, hence why they remade the whole game from scratch, but did it work?
SEGA tried to tie in the Sonic 4 saga to Sonic CD
even more (hence the recent re-release thanks to The Taxman, Christian Whitehead), so I assume it fits more now than it did with Sonic 4.1.
Thanks to Episode Metal (jump to Extras to find out more about it), Eggman, after his last defeat in 4.1, goes to Little Planet and tries (succeeding) to resurrect Metal Sonic, after his defeat in Stardust Speedway (Bad Future), then repairs him in Mad Gear Zone, making Sonic and Tails find out about the revival of Little Planet, which they do not know why he's bringing the planet back.
Overall, the story seems a bit too forced into Sonic CD's Bad Ending, and mostly on how the Metal Sonic battle ended in the Bad Future instead of the Good Future, because if you recall finishing Sonic CD's Good Ending.
But in general, the story's okay, they made some fair adjustments to make the Sonic 4 saga fit into the story arc, which is pretty good.
Sonic 4.2 has had a lot of revamps in terms of gameplay and graphics.
Starting with the latter, the graphics went from plastic art to full-3D gameplay (it can be played on 3D on PC with the correct software!), maintaining the side-scroller aspect of the game, much like Classic Sonic in Sonic Generations
. The letdown focuses mostly on the Co-Op side of the game, which Sonic Team implemented at all parts of the game. It was enjoyable seeing Tails making a comeback as a playable sidekick, but it seemed a bit forced, because of the Tag Button, either for the Copter Combo, the Submarine Combo or the dreadful Rolling Combo. To add up, most of the stages are built for use of both the single player and the co-op sections, although most of the stages force you to use the Tag Actions more than you used to. And most of the problems with 4.1's physics have been fixed in 4.2, with the whole Sonic rolling on a slope and staying in a ball and the momentum being adjusted.
In terms of Stages, Sonic Team still maintained the four zone status, so the game's longetivity is cut short once again, although it actually is tougher to clear this without a game over on the first playthough.
Sonic 4.1's music was mediocre, especially with Jun Senoue's consecutive attempts of looping a 40-second song. But has he fixed his mistake in 4.2?
Well, not quite. Sonic 4.2 suffers the same fate from 4.1, although there was a slight change in its soundfonts. It doesn't use the Sonic 2 percussion too much as it did in 4.1, but it still is mostly 40-second loops. Although I can say that the songs that are acceptably long are Sky Fortress Zone, Acts 2 and 3.
But the issue doesn't focus solely on longetivity. The whole composition itself didn't feel like a classic Sonic game, although exceptions are made for Sylvania Castle Zone Act 2, White Park Act 2 and Sky Fortress Zone Acts 2 and 3, once again. Senoue may compose good songs, but using the Mega Drive soundfonts might be harder since the last time he composed something for the Mega Drive itself, which was Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island.
Of course, something had to be added for more replayability. Sonic Team decided to port the Red Rings, which are mostly prominent in Colours
, but unlike those two, they are only useful for an Achievement/a Trophy, which is pretty much pointless.
Now, there was one extra for those who purchased Sonic 4.1 on either of the devices, you unlock a free DLC written inside the game, called Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode Metal, which tells the story of how Metal Sonic resurrected, and found Sonic & Tails in White Park.
The extra's acceptable, the physics are like 4.2, Metal feels heavier than Sonic and in overall seems good.
Or so it would.
Because this extra only features 4 acts (not levels, acts!), and each of them is exactly a re-skinned, more difficult version of Act 1 of Mad Gear Zone, Lost Labyrinth Zone, Casino Street Zone and Splash Hill Zone, and although it seems difficult, again, it's pretty much easy from start to finish. It just seems like a poor attempt at adding more replayability to 4.M, and it doesn't work.
Sonic Team and Dimps tried. It does look like they tried. But Sonic 4.2 just fails to prevail on the statement of the whole Sonic 4 saga "being a true sequel". The physics themselves are far, far better than the ones on Sonic 4.1, yet most of the level design and co-op levels are just mediocre, and could give enough room for improvement, which is why Red Rings couldn't give an extra in-game, for example. Sonic 4.2 is good if you overlook these minor details, but if not, and are one of the hardcores, you'll see that this is an improvement of 4.1, but still not a true sequel. But it is Sonic 4, so there's nothing to change on that.
The game's graphics were a great improvement, it made 4.2 actually feel more like its own game, and looks like it could use the 3D feature on consoles and PC!
Although most physics have been fixed, the level design fails to deliver, and the Tornado stages can annoy you at most if played with 2 players.
Like the physics, the music was slightly improved yet the composition doesn't seem to work, especially with songs that have an 18-second loop for a 4-minute boss level.
This varies by player, to be honest, some can finish the game quickly, some can finish it slowly, especially with Sonic 4.M included, so it depends on how long you want it to last.
FINAL SCORE: 3/5
(Editor's note: The review has been slightly changed for the website version, if you want to see the original version, check the original thread here!)
11th November, 2012 - 00:49 GMT
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