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SoS 2010 – Sonic 4 Impressions

So the game that the vast majority of the SoS-goers were there to play was Sonic 4. Now, a few in the scene have already played it thanks to the leak but I’m willing to bet that most haven’t due to the J-Tag requirement, so for the vast majority at the show it was their first playthrough, it was certainly mine. And after the wait in the queue, the demo pods came within reach and I finally got to see if the internet butthurt over this simple downloadable video game had been warranted.


Again, this was the E3 Demo, like the 2 Colours games. It’s funny to think that had it not been for the leak, this would have been released commercially by now. And to be honest this showed somewhat in the game – it looks great, runs at a beautifully smooth and solid 60fps in a way no console Sonic title has in YEARS and from a technical aspect there’s absolutely no flaws in it. So now we get down to the point – what was it like? Well, seeing as the line for the game was so long (like an hour or two, much like Colours) I thought it would take the piss somewhat to play all 3 acts and the boss of Splash Hill which were available, so I just played 1 and 3 instead, the first consciously not using the homing attack, and the second using it, just to compare how the game plays either way. I came prepared, folks. =P This does mean that I can take no position at all on the minecart, so this will be my last mention of it.

I won’t bother boring you with details about music (we could barely hear it over the show’s sound system, plus it’s on the public web anyway) or graphics (also on the public web), as we know that this E3 demo may well have changes in those departments anyway before the final release (or may not! Who knows) and just focus in depth on the one thing that really matters here – the gameplay.

First I played Splash Hill 1, without using the homing attack. Honestly? While it’s not like playing S1/2/3/K (but let’s be honest here, people. NOTHING has played quite like them since 1994), it’s still a solid control setup. Sonic does what you want, where you want, and my only small criticism I noted was the acceleration is a bit slow (it’s Rush’s, essentially). Apart from that, I have zero issues with the physics engine. While having speed boosters, the level (and Splash Hill 3, while I’m at it) did not feel packed to the gills with them at all. The level has multiple paths, some nice effects, and is FUN to play, something a lot of people are missing.

Then we get to Splash Hill 3, where I actually did use the Homing Attack a lot – and you know what? I actually ended up playing worse for it. The comments from some (more notably those who haven’t actually played the game, only watched video) about “mindlessly spamming A” really don’t gel – if you try this (as I did in a few sections), more often than not you’ll end up getting hit by something. The Homing Attack works well if you put some thought into how to use it, but doesn’t if you’re just acting like A is a Turbo button on a 3rd party joypad. Yes, there’s a few sections in the game where it’s much easier to progress by homing attacking a chain of Bubbles rather than bouncing over them – but 1, it’s still doable, and 2 – complaining about having to use a move is like complaining that you have to use the brakes in a racing game, or heal potions in an RPG, or vehicles in an FPS – they’re there to make a title more fun and to offer some choice. What’s the problem, honestly? Sonic 1, 2, and 3K all introduced a new move, 4 is no different (yes, I know, it’s been used in many other titles. And yes, it was designed for 3D games so enemies were easier to home in on. So? It doesn’t make Homing Attack any less fun in ROM hacks like Megamix).

At this point I had to relinquish the controller to the next person in line, seeing how long the line was. So here is what I like to think is a fair conclusion of Sonic 4 – it’s not Sonic 3 & Knuckles. This does not mean it’s a bad game by any means. I thoroughly enjoyed it, in many ways it was like playing the originals all over again, a breath of fresh air the franchise has needed for a long time. With this and Colours, Sega has a solid lineup for the Christmas period, and with more episodes of Sonic 4 to come (and hopefully, a disc release of all of them together once they’re all done, hint hint Sega), it doesn’t look like good plain FUN Sonic titles are going anywhere any time soon. As someone who’s managed to cling on to the franchise despite titles like Sonic 06 and Shadow the Hedgehog, I thoroughly welcome this. At the end of the day, the only reason anyone is REALLY bitching about Sonic 4 is because of the title.

I now await the people who haven’t so much as pressed Start on the title screen of Sonic 4, and those who’ve pirated the pre-final (and pre-tweaks!) Xbox 360 Partnernet build, telling me why I’m so wrong. =P

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20 Comments

  • Reply

    Finally, a reasonable review of the Homing Attack by a fan site. It looks like Sonic will dominate the market this holiday season.

  • Reply

    I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS GAME. Besides, at E3 they said they would fix the acceleration thing, didn’t they?

  • Reply

    Wait, someone pirated the game? That’s not right, in fact that’s illegal.

  • Reply

    Your positive, I like that, but I don’t agree with you

  • Reply

    Let’s just say the old final/now beta could use some tweaks here and there. Music aside (custom soundtrack support on PS3 will easily remedy this), some tweaks to the level design and physics on top of the reported two new stages will be enough to bump this up to a pretty good title, at least to a level headed person.

    The most jaded will use any excuse possible to hate it. Good report, sir.

  • Reply

    Excellent summation and review – exactly as I had suspected the game was like from the videos, all along. The word you missed was “self-restraint”, something that gamers seem to lack in spades. Self restraint is needed with the homing attack, and that’s why it’s not a game breaker, but a game maker.

  • Reply

    Finally a review that seems to be looking at what it is, and not whining and moaning about small things that most people haven’t even TRIED yet (or was revealed so long ago that it could have been tweaked), or something so small that it doesn’t even matter. I, myself, am looking forward to this game, will purchase it when it comes out, and will see if it is a good game or not by my OWN OPINION. But your review is lovely, and I am glad to see that it isn’t a “OMG DISSAPOINTMENT PLZ WTF!”. Oddly enough, I’m pleased about the homing-attack now that it’s been discribed, and I think it’s intereseting that it isn’t nessisary, but you can use it if you’d like to. Very nice. Thanks very much for reporting!

  • Reply

    @OP WTF you fell for their tricks again god this Sonic Cycle is so powerful its basically sonic rush’s physics not the classics physics evlution my ass the way they’re treating sonic 4 they are so dumb shity prerendered DLC crappy rehashed zone and badniks not a high budget,rush physics,homing attack which sucks,terrible level design,uncurling,no classic characters onyl modern bullshit wow you have such low standards i hope sega goes bankrupt and sell sonic to nintendo etc

    • Reply

      lol. did you play this game?

      • Reply

        well i almost did i saw enough of the video to see that these arent classic physics and Takashi Iizuka said himself “No Floaty Physics,Classic Gameplay” Classic Gameplay my ass this is a souless nostalgia cash-in nothing else they should just kill sonic or sell it to nintendo or capcom the companies that care(and dont come to me saying “Ewwwww Megaman 9 and 10 are 8 bit graphics Bla Bla Bla” cuz they are way better then sonic 4)

        • Reply

          You’re an idiot. Come back with a valid opinion once you’ve actually done so much as press start on the title screen.

  • Reply

    I don’t really have high-hopes for Sonic 4 because Sega wants to take in feedback from the fans as they develop each episode, which to me, spells disaster. The people who don’t like it are going to pick apart every little detail to Sega, and if they listen, we’ll basically have Sonic 2 or Sonic 3 & Knuckles and then they’ll bitch some more. But then again, even some the people who do like Sonic 4, have either already downloaded the demo, and sadly, will probably find a way to steal it once its finally release. I’m not saying the game is bad, I’m saying, for the small portion of the fan community that makes the entire community look bad, will probably ruin the game long before it ever reaches to episode 2. This isn’t really a prediction, but more like a deep rooted fear. I hope I am wrong, and this doesn’t turn out to be like Sin Episode Emergence. Sega, just forget what the fans say they want and just make a 2D sonic game, Sonic Advanced was a good game, what happened in Advance 2?

    • Reply

      @Kenpei no you shouldnt have hopes for sonic 4 cuz Dimps is developing it and they’re lazy as hell to study the classic the fans are alot more capable then dimps think about it if it wasnt for the delay we would of had the fukin E3 Demo as the final release i’d rather have SOTI and some members of sonicretro here make sonic 4 then dimps going apeshit Rush style on Sonic 4

      • Reply

        Damn trolls.

  • Reply

    @Overlord no you are an idiot this isnt an evolution this a de-evolution come on now even the best technical members in sonic retro know that these are edited sonic rush’s physics guuuuuh i can’t really argue with fanboys like you sonic 4 doesn’t play nothing like the classic games and sega promised classic gameplay man so dont side with them Iizuka was being like “No floaty LPB physics,classic gameplay” well classic gameplay my ass

    • Reply

      This is most certainly a troll.

      As for Sonic 4, it does look much improved from earlier footage and I’m still excited to give it a try and see how it plays for myself. You can’t judge gameplay on a video properly IMO.

    • Reply

      Punctuation motherfucker, can you use it?

  • Reply

    Sonic 4 looks nice, although I cannot see it as the sequel of Sonic 3. That is because it looks like a remake of Sonic 1 with some extra twists. I mean the levels seem like they are out remade in HD from Sonic 1 and 2. Nothing new!

    The homing attack and speed rush (Rush games) feels very cheap.
    I’d prefer if it was a powerup instead, like the shield in Sonic 3D Blast or only Super Sonic could use it. Double jump would be useful for Sonic instead.

    It just feels that SEGA did not give it much focus.

    Where is the story? What is the catch?
    In Sonic 1 you had to save your animal friends from Eggman.
    In Sonic 2 you had to stop Eggman from completing Death Egg.
    In Sonic CD you had to stop Eggman in a time-twisted adventure while you had to save Amy
    In Sonic 3, Eggman was repairing Death Egg and planned to capture Master Emerald this time in order to get infinite power.

    What I see in Sonic 4 is the Sonic 1 story all over again. What happened after Death Egg was destroyed? What Eggman did after all that?

    Deciding to do an episodic Sonic game was the worst idea ever. Only 4 levels? The classics had like 6-18 levels (not acts). New Super Mario Bros had 8 worlds with 80(!) levels (acts)! The game should have been a standalone game with much more NEW levels. Because we want to play the classics doesn’t mean we want to replay the old levels again with different routes.

    Deciding to only include Sonic? I think that Sega here was pussied-out. Sega, Tails, Knuckles and Amy are okay to include. These are the characters we saw in your genesis games, so we love them. It’s the fanchar-looking ones like Shadow and the dumb useless ones like Big, we don’t like.

    Sonic 4 will be a good game, but it will not be as memorable as the genesis games were.

    • Reply

      Also to add up my concerns towards the music.

      The music sounds bad, it’s bearable but bad.
      Jun Senoue can do much better than this. Leave the man do his work. Let him remix some of the old tunes properly. Because we want classic it doesn’t mean we want Sega to reuse the old genesis soundbank. Our ears can’t bear it as easily anymore.

    • Reply

      Sadly, story is one of the things whiners are sick of. They don’t want narrative of any kind. They just want to run and jump for the sake of doing so, which is dull.
      And, no, it won’t be as memorable as the classics because everyone and their grandmother has put them on such a frickin’ high pedastal. How could anyone be expected to like anything that comes out after that with such unfair comparisons?

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