Dev: Sonic Team
www: Official Site
Sonic 4: Episode 2
Sixteen years after Sonic’s original trilogy on the Mega Drive, Sonic 4 was seen as the authentic follow up to Sonic & Knuckles and a return to Sonic’s glorious 2D legacy. Although it was an enjoyable title, the fans cried out that Sonic’s physics weren’t a match to the days of old. Sonic 4: Episode 2 has arrived to finish the story and right what went wrong first time round, but it doesn’t go far enough.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 takes place a few months after Episode 1. “Little Planet” has been spotted near Earth and Eggman restored Metal Sonic after his conflict at the end of Sonic CD. Sonic, reunited with his friend Tails, set out to stop the evil duo once again. Episode 2 can be considered a modern homage to Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and pulls it off fairly well. Each stage along with the accompanying music pays respect to the classic game yet the inclusion of “tag actions” allow Sonic Team to create more elaborate courses than previously possible.
By pressing the X button, Sonic and Tails can team up to perform one of three moves: Helicopter, where Tails can lift Sonic to higher locations and can be useful to save a botched jump over death traps. Submarine, which is essentially the same idea but underwater. Finally, there’s Rolling Combo. Both characters combine to form a big, spinning ball of destruction that can tear through walls, enemies and other obstacles.
Mastering these new moves can take time to seasoned fans, as sometimes Sonic won’t be able to advance without his mutated little buddy. Sadly, that’s as forward thinking as Sonic 4: Episode 2 ever gets. More often than not, the Tails sections slow down the action and leaves you babysitting the blue Hedgehog. It leaves for questionable level design when all you want to do is run as Sonic at lightening speed.
Physics have always been a difficult subject with Sonic games and is a key focus with Episode 2’s new engine. Sonic now keeps his momentum similar to the 16-bit series and is more responsive. Accompany this with the homing attack, it can lead to some impressive results for speed runners thanks to the more vertical and open track layout.
The rest is generic Sonic fanfare, which on its own merits isn’t a bad thing. The Sonic 4 saga as a whole is an enjoyable experience and Sonic fans will appreciate what is there, but the sense of creativity typically found with the franchise is sorely lacking. Everything on offer has been done before and become a cliché.
For a game considered a sequel to the classic era, the potential is clear but never capitalised on. Bland yet competent design will keep speedsters entertained but the broader audience will glaze over the experience. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 is a solid game on its own accord and addresses criticisms of the previous game but this isn’t the return to Sonic’s 2D glory.