Hey folks, Valkor here. When Sonic was introduced onto the Sega Genesis back in 1991, I fell instantly in love with the character and his style of play – it was all about speed. The sequels were were more or less hit or miss and when he went into the 3D realm… well Sonic sorta went astray and not in a good way. Now Sega is bringing The Blue Blur with an attitude back to his roots in a new title that's download only (on Xbox Live, PSN, and Wiiware), and a direct sequel from his Genesis days, which in my opinion were the best days ever. Introducing Sonic 4: Episode 1 and it's a BLAST!
Sonic is back in his old 2D form pitted against Dr. Eggman in a battle to not only save the land, but to gain chaos Emeralds. As Sonic you'll fight it out in four zones, each broken into three parts with a final boss stage. Once completed you'll have to face off against Robo… oops I mean Dr. Eggman in a final battle that's "to be continued" in the next episode. You can tackle the worlds straight through or head for the world map where you can take on any world in any order you choose, which includes the special stages. Speaking of the "special stage"; it's a total throwback to Sonic 1 where you guide a curled up Sonic through a maze to get the Chaos Emeralds. Once you get em all you can become "Super Sonic".
Sonic is not without his usual array of attacks – he has the bounce attack, dash attack, as well aa a lock-on attack. You collect rings to sustain your life, which even if you have one you're still good. But lose em all and get hit, then its game over. Get 100 and you gain an extra life. Finish a level with 50 plus and you get the giant ring to access the special stage. Littered throughout the worlds are helpful items which Sonic can use to aid him through his journey such as a force-field, invincibility, and shoes for super speed; all akin to Sonic's beginnings. He doesn't use a sword, doesn't turn into a wolf, he doesn't do anything but what Sonic does best and that's run fast, taking out the baddies along the way.
The graphics on the PS3 and Xbox are hi-def up to 1080p (The Wii is 480p) and looks beautiful. Sonic alone has an awesome cel-shading, which gives him a nice animated look. The backdrops are a sight to behold and on my first run, I didn't wanna speed through - I wanted to take it all in, especially Casino Zone. Graphics are sharp, crystal clear and just so damn beautiful it hurts. Audio wise, to me, the music has a throwback feel to Sonic 2 (I ain't hatin, SOnic 2 was and still is my favorite ofthem all)… actually the game itself looks and feels like Sonic 2; even when the stage begins and the boss battles. The only thing not Sonic 2 is the special stage. But this isn't a negative. Not in the least!
So what do I think of the game overall?
Really? You gotta ask? I LOVE THIS GAME!! Everything about it from the graphics to the music, to the controls (well…) are all what made me fall in love with Sonic all those moons ago. I love that the levels are tough, but not too tough that you'll get overly frustrated, but it's no walk in the park either. You get Sonic running at a good clip and suddenly BAM! You're knocked back by an enemy that appeared from nowhere. The Casino Zone and Mad Gear Zone are my two favorites because of the level of interaction with the worlds. In Casino Zone you pass through cards where you can gain 1ups and in Mad Gear Zone you ride gears to get you through the stages (not entirely, but it's fun to ride em). Overall I was excited to hear about a new 2D Sonic game and now that I have had the chance to play it, I am just so damn pleased that Sega finally took Sonic back to his roots. SONIC IS BACK, BABY!! And I couldn't be happier!
So back in the days of Sonic 1 and 2, if you're on a good run through loops and shooting downhill, if you should let go of the controller, Sonic would run on his own. In this game, physics plays a part with the player as Sonic will not run on his own any longer – you have to hold the controller down in the direction you wanna go to keep the momentum. And should you let go say mid-loop… he drops. That's kinda sad really because that's what made Sonic so much fun, in that you got to watch him race through loops on his own and suddenly feel your jaw hit the floor as you're so impressed with the speed of it all.
If you haven't already done so, download right now – not tomorrow, not next month, not next year, NOW (or as soon as possible) Sonic 4: Episode 1. It's classic Sonic with a modern flare. Even iPhone users can get in on the fun! So out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving Sonic 4, 4.5 stars. Bring on episode 2!!