Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 Falls Short

Sonic zooms out of the gate, only to break a leg on the first turn.
Author: Andy Curtiss
Published: October 18, 2010
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I should start out by saying that I love Sega. I have always loved Sega. I grew up with a Genesis and upgraded to a Sega CD when it came out. I moved on to Sega Saturn, confident that Sega was pioneering the future of videogaming. I cried big salty tears when the Saturn died an early, unfulfilled death. I never got to own a Dreamcast (darn you mom and dad), but again was sad when it floundered and went down quietly in its sleep. My point here is that I'm a fan that has stood by Sega every step of the way. So it saddens me to see that, after more then 15 years, this is the best that could be done with Sonic the Hedgehog.

As many Sega fanboys would tell you, we've had to endure a veritable avalanche of cruddy Sonic titles that fell further and further from the game we grew up with. And while Sonic the Hedgehog wasn't my favorite series in the world, I still played them all, for better or worse. The one thing that the series always did for me was combine high speed collecting with a bit of platforming for flavor. Even though the genre wasn't my cup-of-tea, this combination was pretty well blended and entertaining. The introduction of Tails was just cute enough in my opinion as well. But Sonic the Hedgehog 4 seems to fall a bit flat in a few different areas making it just a tad too frustrating to enjoy like I used to.

Thankfully Sega has wiped out all of the extra "stuff" from the other Sonic games. No special shields with extra abilities, no other characters hogging the spotlight and a "special stage" that is a blast back to the original title's concept (think rotating pinball machine if you're not familiar). It's truly a hefty dose of nostalgia - which is exactly what fanboys have been screaming for... for 15 years now. The only remaining feature from days-of-Sonic-past is the ability to hold down, tap jump and charge up a spin dash.

However, it's TOO much of a blast from the past. The stages, while in bright and colorful HD, are the same stages from the past Sonic titles. They've just been given new names and a couple little tweaks. You'd think that after so many years they could have come up with something a bit more fresh. I didn't particularly enjoy the whole dark, water filled labyrinth level the first time. And while not having to swim around for 3 acts was a nice change it still seems like they could have come up with something different. Sadly enough even the Las Vegas themed levels seemed a bit uninspired. They're not something we haven't already seen.

The sound also grated on me just a little bit. After getting through the whole first stage (which is still broken up into three "acts") I found myself muting the TV and turning on some music of my choosing. The soundtrack sounds like an HD remix of the original Sonic the Hedgehog tunes, which is nostalgic, yes. And it makes the 10 year old fanboy inside me smile. But after about 10 minutes the smiling stopped. Perhaps if the game didn't have some of it's other problems I wouldn't have cared so much about the music. But it all seemed to compound the experience for me.
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