Previews// Sonic the Hedgehog 4

Posted 30 Apr 2010 16:06 by
Let's not kid ourselves. We all love Sonic the Hedgehog at least a little bit. SEGA's spiny blue mascot is arguably one of the coolest computer game characters that has ever existed. There's a reason that the original 1990s Mega Drive series is still held in such high regard today ? Sonic 1 to Sonic & Knuckles represent some of the most replayable titles that you can find, even in today's gaming age.


It's a testament to the sheer perfection in physics-based platforming, level design and themed gameplay gimmicks that each of those 16-bit games provided. Since Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast however, the blue blur's reputation has been tarnished thanks to the release of some proper clangers. SEGA is seeking to fix that in the only way it can ? revisit the formula that made the Mega Drive games so great.

Now, at this point it's only natural to be a bit dubious. Sonic Team isn't what it once was ? programmer Yuji Naka has formed his own studio, designer Naoto Ohshima is heading Artoon and level designer Hirokazu Yasuhara is flirting with Pac-Man at Namco Bandai. The guys left standing have been unsuccessful at translating the 2D action into 3D. Fans are even split on the modern 2D releases on Game Boy and Nintendo DS. This track record isn't exactly encouraging.

As perhaps one of the most studious Sonic fans of all, I had the opportunity to see the game for myself a little while ago. I had heard about the claims that Sonic 4 is too much like a rehash, or that tricks such as the homing attack have dumbed down the experience. I've even seen those dodgy-quality internet videos that leaked shortly after the game's announcement. And I've got to say, that there's no point passing judgement until you see it running first-hand.

On an HD screen, the graphics are simply gorgeous. 'Vinyl-looking grass' be damned ? as you take in the entirety of Splash Hill Zone, with towering landscapes passing by in a parallax-scrolling fashion as you run through the level, there's no other word that describes it other than 'Sonic.' This game has 'blue skies' written all over it.

There are certainly plenty of throwbacks to the original game's Green Hill Zone. That much is obvious from just looking at the screenshots. But that's no bad thing at all. Crazy robots ? all inspired by previous Mega Drive titles ? try to stop you in your tracks, but aren't mapped so erratically that it breaks the flow of Sonic running down a hill and through a string of loop-de-loops.

Momentum-based ramps follow on from speed segments, and flinging into the air will reward you with a bunch of rings. Additional paths can be found by spin attacking through weak walls. Gameplay-wise, this is looking like the real return to form that Sonic the Hedgehog fans have desperately been asking for.
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Comments

TSonic02 1 May 2010 21:30
1/11
Nice descriptions. My faith in this game has just risin. This Has to be a good.
TSonic02 1 May 2010 21:49
2/11
I still wonder, however, what is next for Sonic after this. Will they still make 3D Sonic games, or are they actually giving in to the peoples criticism and only making 2D Sonic games from now on. I would be disappointed to see that the potential to make more amazing 3D games then just Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 will never be shown.
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speed 4 May 2010 20:04
3/11
that is lame
sonikfan28 9 May 2010 15:07
4/11
AWSOME!I love sonic.=)
rezapoc 10 May 2010 19:54
5/11
The thing is that Sonic Team are only producing this effort, the real donky work is being done by Sonic Advance/ Rush developer Dimps.
Thats why i'm looking forward to this more than any other home console Sonic game since Heroes.

The next main series sonic game is guaranteed to be out next year as its the 20th anniversary of the first game.
spritemaster 11 May 2010 21:46
6/11
is anyone else bothered by the fact that every leaked level looks like a hd upgrade of past 2d sonic titles? Very few original levels have been made, and there seems to be this odd thing of including Past Bosses as well. I don't want to call this sonic 4, more along the lines of sonic remade.
Solaris Paradox 14 May 2010 23:36
7/11
@TSonic02

They'll still be making Sonic games in 3D, no mistake. However, if Sonic 4 is a success, more games in the same vein would be an inevitability, so even those who despise the 3D games or aren't wowed by Sega's attempts henceforth will at least have a steady stream of new 2D games to look forward to, and it'd give Sega a good way to utilize the franchise without compromising the mainstream 3D games with constricted development cycles. It might even influence the design mentality behind the 3D games in the future if they see that the core Sonic fandom and core Sonic gameplay have potential for retail success.
Solaris Paradox 14 May 2010 23:38
8/11
@spritemaster

They are, and blatantly, going for the nostalgia angle; perhaps the title Sonic 4 is a misnomer in that regard. But after 15+ years, I think that's permissible, as long as they change gears and take a fresher and more original approach before the charm of familiarity gets too stale.
blu_64 17 May 2010 18:05
9/11
nice to see one more positive preview for Sonic 4. ^_^
Black Doom 20 May 2010 17:47
10/11
BUT GREEN EYEZ>:O!!!!!! JK seriously this gamelooks very very promising (green eyes or not^_^) I can't wait! I'm as eager for it as mario galaxy 2!!
Mardic 20 May 2010 21:09
11/11
@TSonic02 Firstly, I prefer the 2D games. But, I believe that giving up on 3D games would be ridiculous. Sonic Team should continue to try their best to make 3D Sonic work. Also, a lot of people enjoy 3D Sonic more than 2D, so I really don't think they'll just discontinue 3D Sonic. I personally, REALLY enjoyed the adventure series, and didn't mind unleashed. But, they've gotta stop thinking that Sonic is ALL about speed, cause it's not. He's a platformer, the speed comes SECOND to THAT.
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