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Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 Review

Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another review from your jolly blogger friend the hypersonic55! Today I’m going to bring you my long-awaited review of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2!

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So after a long time of waiting and waiting and WAITING, Sonic 4: Episode 2 finally came out on as a digital download around mid-May… However I didn’t have the funds to get the game at the time, so I had to wait for the reviews to come around so I could get an idea of what to expect before I got the game myself. Suffice to say that the critical and fan response to Sonic 4: Episode 2 was mixed. Some fans loved it, while a lot of fans and critics didn’t. For those who didn’t like it the main points of their argument was that Sonic Team and Dimps fixed many things in terms of gameplay and handling of Sonic’s physics, but introduced some new problems in regards to the level design and the co-op gameplay with Tails. Well I was going to reserve judgment until I played the game myself. And so I downloaded the game on PSN around early June and I can say is that it wasn’t what I was expecting. I actually hated this game a lot when I first started playing it, but over the summer my opinion changed a great deal. So what’s my statement on the game? Well read on and find out.

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Plot

Following the events of Episode I, Metal Sonic has returned to form a formidable alliance with Dr. Eggman! To face this new evil, Sonic will have to call upon an old friend to help him save the day! Now joined by Tails, race across four brand new Zones and take down fearsome new badniks with deadly combination moves in order to put an end to this dastardly duo’s plans!

Gameplay

The gameplay is similar to Sonic 4: Episode 1, but there are a few enhancements. Episode 2 sees the return of Sonic’s friend Tails who can be controlled by a second player or the computer online or locally in co-operative play. Tails isn’t a playable character like 16-bit games, also Sonic can’t be played on his own and it forced to play with Tails. This game also introduces combo moves that Sonic and Tails can perform together from Tails carrying to places through the air to rolling up in a massive ball to do a big spin attack that’ll smash through walls, enemies and give you loads of speed. Other than those few enhancements everything’s still the same, you still have to go through 4 zones with 3 acts in each and a boss encounter at the end. After completing all 12 acts and all 4 boss encounters there’s the final boss to take care of too. You still have a world map can to use but unlike the last game you can’t pick acts in any random order.

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When compared to the last game Sonic handles a lot better than before, while he feels a little slower at first his physics are a hell of a lot better. Sonic has a little more weight to him, he rolls downhill a lot more and he’s finally stopped uncurling when coming off of ramps. However it still can’t hold a candle to Mega Drive/Genesis games, Sonic’s physics are still a bit off, how can you stand on a slope, press down and not go into a spin dash and gain speed? I don’t understand how Dimps and Sonic Team can’t get physics and the basics of momentum based platforming right. It’s ridiculous. Level designs are better than before, there are less bottomless pits and less gimmicky sections. However the game now has this camera that zooms in close to Sonic and then zooms out from him at points which makes it difficult to see what’s coming ahead and can lead to some unfair complications with hazards ahead. There are also some question level design in Oil Desert Zone and Sky Fortress Zone and there are still moments of unfair death via bottomless pits, a dodgy camera and bad enemy placement.

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Oh and the boss battles, holy man… I HATE THEM. Well more specifically I’m talking about the Dr. Eggman fights. They are so long and drawn out and some of them require pinpoint precision to defeat and should you fail to defeat the boss you’ll have sat there and watch the introduction animation every bloody time and it’s so tedious. The boss fights are one part of the game I never revisit because they are so slow, so tedious and not worth retrying at all. Though I can say that the Metal Sonic fights are way more fun and entertaining and not as tedious, though they are bloody hard at certain points. And finally there’s the Special Stages in this game which are modelled after the ones in Sonic 2, and they aren’t as fun as the versions from the 90s. These Special Stages still have you running through a half-pipe collecting a specific number of rings before reaching the goal, if you have the reach the target amount you get a Chaos Emerald. And obviously after collecting all seven you can once again become Super Sonic.

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Presentation

Graphically the game is really good and miles better than the first game. Rather than that flat-looking 2.5D looks of Episode 1, the graphics in this game have been reworked with a 3D style that’s way more colourful and visually appealing than before. The character models for Sonic and Tails are more in line with their recent games like Sonic Colours and Generations, I love this look and it really works well on a 2D plane too. The rest of the art and animation in the stage locations are incredibly detailed and look amazing, from the snowy locations of White Park Zone to the epic vast skies of Sky Fortress Zone and then there’s the Death Egg Mk. II Zone which has some amazing lighting and a great presence to it.

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In the audio department it is a bit of a mixed bag, Jun Senoue comes back as composer for Episode 2 and while this soundtrack has been reworked with more electronic instruments it doesn’t always work out. While Episode 1 didn’t have the best soundtrack, it did have some memorable songs. Episode 2 has some highlights with Sylvania Castle Zone Act 1 & 3, White Park Zone Act 2, Oil Desert Zone Act 1 and Sky Fortress Zone Act 2. Death Egg Mk.II Zone would be better if it was longer. Everything else in this soundtrack is either okay or just pants. I don’t like reworked version of the Sonic 4 theme, it just sounds awkward and clunky, White Park Zone Act 1 sounds annoying, Oil Desert Zone Act 2 is just the worst track ever and the Boss music is terribly short and repetitive.

Conclusion

In the end Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 is actually a decent game, there is much to appreciate about this game from the incredible visuals to the improved physics. However this game isn’t perfect by any means, this game should have been better than Episode 1 by miles and it should have been the best thing since Sonic Generations. However as it stands, Sonic 4: Episode 2 just feels like Sonic 4: Episode 1.5, it improves on a few things, but it still leaves many of the inconsistent or bad factors of the previous game intact and also finds ways to introduce new issues in this latest episode too. Sonic 4: Episode 2 for me is a good game once you get into it, but it’s still not the amazing Sonic game that I wanted.

Rating: 7.5

Well there’s my review, I know it’s a little late but I had to get this review done before the year was out. Anyways I hope it was worth the wait and as always leave me a comment below as well.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Game Reviews, Media, Reviews, Video Games

 

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Month of Nostalgic Game Reviews: Sonic & Knuckles

Howdy ladies and gents and welcome to Day #13 of my Month of Nostalgic Game Reviews where I’ll be giving you reviews of some of my most nostalgic video games from my childhood. Today the Sonic love ends with the second half of Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles!

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So this game was released in the latter part of 1994, several months after Sonic 3 and as I said before this is the second half of the previous Sonic game. In this game there are 2 stories. The premise for Sonic takes place immediately after Sonic beats Dr. Robotnik and sends his Death Egg crashing into Floating Island. So Sonic spends this game tracking down Robotnik and collecting the Chaos Emeralds while conflicting with Knuckles along the way. Whereas for Knuckles his premise takes place apparently after Sonic’s and it involves Knuckles chasing after “Egg Robo” (this story’s main antagonist), after it attacks him. After hunting him down this leads to a confrontation with Mecha Sonic who has the Master Emerald too, so Knuckles will need to defeat him in order to get his emerald back.

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In terms of gameplay it’s virtually unchanged for the most part, besides getting a few new levels and changes to what one expected in Sonic 3. The main formula for this platforming game is still the same, you run from left to right trying to get to the goal at the end of the level while avoiding enemies and environmental hazards. You still have access to all the power-ups from before and still have to fight a mini boss at the end of Act 1 and fight the main boss at the end of Act 2. Though there are some new aspects like:

  • The use of Knuckles as a playable character. He’s slower and not as fast as Sonic, however he has the ability to glide through the air and can climb walls allowing him to get to areas Sonic can’t. Also the game is slightly harder when playing as Sonic.
  • In this game alone Tails isn’t a playable character.
  • When passing the star post checkpoints there’s 2 new mini games available when you pass the star post with 20 rings are more.

But the big new feature was the “lock-on technology” feature. Consider it like an expansion pack or the earlier form of DLC through cartridges. This feature allowed the Sonic 3 and Sonic 2 cartridges to slot on top of Sonic & Knuckles and access their data and combine them all into one game. In regards to Sonic 3, when you put it together with Sonic & Knuckles you got Sonic 3 & Knuckles, the full experience the way it was originally intended. In this combined game you could play through all of the levels of both games as Sonic, Knuckles or Tails and in addition to the super forms, if you collected Super Emeralds you could unlock the characters’ Hyper forms too. And in regards to Sonic 2, you basically got to control Knuckles throughout that game which was interesting to see how he’d interact with that environment. And lastly when it came to Sonic 1 and all other Sega Mega Drive game cartridges you played an infinite number of variations of the Special Stages from Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

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When it comes to my nostalgic memories of Sonic & Knuckles, it isn’t as strong as Sonic 3. You see I originally only owned Sonic 1-3, but never had a copy of Sonic & Knuckles until I sought the game out and bought it myself I think in either 1998/9 or maybe even 2000. While playing the game was fun, it felt a lot harder than Sonic 3 and while I liked Mushroom Hill Zone and Flying Battery Zone, when I got to Sandopolis Zone I just so angry, it was so frigging hard, frustrating and unnecessarily tedious. Though I did like playing as Knuckles in the game which did make an interesting change from playing as Sonic and Tails. When it came to using the “lock-on technology” when I used it on Sonic 3, I never really used it that much because playing through all of the levels sounded like a chore to me and as Knuckles I was only playing the game to see what Sonic 3‘s levels would be like with him in it. I found it more fun to use Knuckles in Sonic 2 and as for locking on Sonic 1 I’d just try out some of the Stage Stages for a while until my mind turned to mush haha. I never really played much of Sonic & Knuckles and used the lock-on feature until I got Sonic Jam and abused the hell out of it when I was a teenager.

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In conclusion while this half of Sonic 3 for me isn’t nearly as cool as the first half, Sonic & Knuckles does have its own merits. Some levels are extremely memorable thanks to the level design, visuals and awesome music and being able to use the lock-on technology for the previous Sonic games is pretty badass. If you’re planning on playing Sonic & Knuckles make sure to do it with a copy of Sonic 3 to experience the game at its full potential.

And on day 13 that’s the end of my Sonic madness, come back tomorrow where I’ll have another nostalgic game to talk about. 🙂

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2012 in Game Reviews, Media, Reviews, Video Games

 

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Month of Nostalgic Game Reviews: Sonic The Hedgehog 3

Howdy ladies and gents and welcome to Day #12 of my Month of Nostalgic Game Reviews where I’ll be giving you reviews of some of my most nostalgic video games from my childhood. Today the Sonic love continues with one of the finest Sonic games next to its predecessors, Sonic the Hedgehog 3!

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Okay now I’m in the zone. While Sonic 2 is my favourite game ever and I used to play it all the time, Sonic 3 I played just about the same amount of time and I have super nostalgic memories with this game. Now some of you may be asking, “Why aren’t you reviewing Sonic 3 along with Sonic & Knuckles as the complete games?” Well I’m reviewing these nostalgic games the way I remember them and I never owned the other half of Sonic & Knuckles until a few years later. Anyways onto the review.

So Sonic 3 was released in 1994 on the Sega Mega Drive and interestingly this game is the first half of a whole Sonic title. See originally during this game’s development cycle Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles were meant to be released as one single-cartridge game. However, due to time constraints and manufacturing costs, the developers decided to split the game in half. In terms of the premise Sonic 3 follows on directly from the end of Sonic 2 where Sonic defeated his enemy, Dr. Robotnik; crash-landing on a floating island, Sonic encounters new character Knuckles the Echidna, and must once again collect the Chaos Emeralds while also working to stop Dr. Robotnik from relaunching his ship, the Death Egg.

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When it comes to gameplay the formula is similar to the last two previous Sonic games, though it is largely improved and changed from before. In this game there are only 6 zones, with 2 acts and a boss encounter at the end of each act (there’s a mini boss at the end of Act 1 and a Robotnik boss fight at the end of Act 2). However in Sonic 3 after finishing Act 1 you start Act 2 straight away, transitioning into the next act seamlessly. Sonic and Tails also have new moves to use. Sonic now has a split second shield to use to protect him against projectiles. While Tails can now fly for a limited time and swim through the water too, obviously with Tails’ flying ability it allows him to explore areas Tails can’t. Also if a player controls Tails and flies then Sonic can be carried along too. And lastly one of the sexiest additions to the Sonic series was the use of shields including fire (protection from fire), bubble (allows to breathe in water) and thunder (a magnet for rings and gives you a mid-air jump), all of which have different attributes and an interesting ability for Sonic when you double tap the jump button.

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Also star posts checkpoints in this game allow you to enter a gumball machine if you have 50 rings when you run past them, inside there you can get rings, shields and extra lives. Another thing to note is that the Special Stages in this game are found by jumping into massive gold rings hidden throughout levels. Inside you had to work your way through a 3D space where the goal is to collect all the blue spheres in the level without touching any red ones. If you collected all of the blue spheres then you got a Chaos Emeralds, and if you get all 7 then you again gain access to Super Sonic. And lastly multiplayer returned in Sonic 3, where you play through unique levels as either sonic, Tails or Knuckles in Grand Prix or Time Attack mode. These levels were varied and allowed for the uses of items that would either improve or impede your progress or hurt the opposite player.

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Graphically this game is great to look at and every environment has a great use of colour and art style (though I think it looks rougher than Sonic 2‘s very smooth look). The soundtrack was also like the best thing ever and was the first soundtrack composed by Jun Senoue who would obviously compose many Sonic soundtracks to come. and let’s not forget the fact that Michael Jackson had a hand in crafting this soundtrack too, it’s something I picked up on when I was a kid because the ending song sounded like “Stranger In Moscow” and when I found out MJ had indeed worked on the game, my mind blew up! And you know when the King of Pop is making music for your game its some awesome stuff yo! 😀

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When it comes to nostalgia with Sonic 3, there is no greater joy in my world when it comes to 16-bit gaming. While Sonic 2 is overall my favourite Sonic game, Sonic 3 had so many better elements like the new shields, soundtrack and crazy level designs. I loved playing through Angel Island Zone and Marble Arch Zone, I really hated Hydrocity Zone because of the slow water sections and that horrible moving wall in Act 2! Plus Carnival Night Zone I liked from a visual and audio standpoint but I could never get past that infamous barrel bit in Act 2 because I was an idiot as a kid lol. I never beat it until a few years ago, I loved the music in this game and used to play this a lot with my sister too. I never beat the game properly until I got Sonic Jam and saw the rest of the game, but I’m glad I did that way because I’m a much better gamer now than I was before.

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In conclusion Sonic 3 is totally badass, it took the basic formula and gameplay and innovated it again to a much higher degree. With the additions of a different art style, amazing gameplay and a kick ass soundtrack Sonic 3 is considered by any to be the best Sonic game ever and while I love this game, I still love Sonic 2 much more. Anyway if you haven’t gotten around to playing this game, stop reading this review and go and play it now. It’s one of the finest games from the 90s. 🙂

Okay so when tomorrow comes around we’ll be reviewing the last game related Sonic, Sonic & Knuckles so look forward to that one folks. And don’t forget to share your nostalgia in the comments below! 😀

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Game Reviews, Media, Reviews, Video Games

 

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New Sonic 4 Episode 2 Video & Info!

Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to another Sonic-related blog post. Just in the latter half of yesterday we got news about Sonic 4: Episode 2 regarding Metal Sonic.

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According to Gamespot, there will be a “lock-on” technology feature between Sonic 4: Episodes 1 & 2 where Metal Sonic will be playable in both episodes for people who have both games (similar to the “lock-on” technology featured on Sonic 3 & Knuckles). It’s also been mentioned that if you have both Sonic 4 episodes then you will have access to four exclusive levels! Insanely awesome stuff here. And then there’s the actual confirmation of the those previously rumoured dates for the game to come out, because now it seems like Sonic 4 Episode 2 will come out on May 15th for PSN, May 16th for Xbox Live, later May for PC, June for Android and July for Windows Mobile.

Oh and there’s a nice new trailer out showcasing a new level! Check it out here:

So as you can see here this new zone is one of the levels that was seen back when the first batch of Sonic 4: Episode 2 images were leaked onto the internet. This zone was shrouded in mystery until we saw more of the level design and layout in this trailer. The zone absolutely screams out nostalgia and clear references from the Oil Ocean Zone from Sonic 2 with the look, style and the parts where Sonic is sliding down the oil, but there are also references to Sonic 3 & Knuckles with the rising sand and robotic enemies emerging from beneath the sand. Overall it looks interesting with level structure, difficulty and a little variation from the previous levels, but for me I was a little underwhelmed by what I saw in this trailer, I had hoped it would be a little more fancy. I dunno, it just didn’t wow me like the last two trailers did.

Anyways, in conclusion I think this will be a fun summer for Sonic fans, firstly you’ll be getting the second episode of Sonic 4, but there will also be “lock on” technology between Sonic 4: Episodes 1 & 2 with Metal Sonic being playable with additional levels too. So yeah good times, again let’s just hope Sega deliver.

UPDATE: Oh and here’s some new screenshots of the new level entitled ‘Oil Desert Zone’ and screenshots of Metal Sonic in action too:

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As you can see here from these set of screenshots, there are many possibilities for new and interesting situations to go down after Episode 2 of Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is released. I’m mainly hyped for all this Metal Sonic tampering I’ll get to do, though it looks like he’ll revisiting old ground where Sonic had been before in Episode 1, I’m sure Metal plays differently to the main blue hedgehog. Plus Metal Sonic hasn’t been a playable character in any Sonic game properly since Sonic Adventure 2: Battle on the Nintendo Gamecube back in 2001! So yeah bring on May 15th!

More screenshots available here: http://www.sonicstadium.org/2012/04/i-dunet-believe-it-new-episode-2-screens/

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Media, Video Games

 

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Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 – First Screenshots

Howdy people of WordPress, today I am here to do a blog post on a gaming related subject and this is actually something great for me as it is the first proper look at Sonic 4: Episode 2!

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The screenshots are from the Xbox.com and showcase a number of new locations that look much more detailed, varied and interesting when compared to Sonic 4: Episode 1. Here they are:

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Just from these first four screenshots you can see that the massive contrast in style from the look of the previous episode, whereas Episode 1 was just a clear reworking of previous Sonic levels from the Megadrive/Genesis games. This game looks like it’s taken on a whole new visual identity. Not to knock the look of Sonic 4: Episode 1 because that game did look good, but compared to these early screenshots that old game doesn’t have a chance in hell. And while you can also see some references to other Sonic games like Sonic 2 & 3 this time they look nice and natural rather than forced and dated like in Sonic 4: Episode 1. Looking at pictures 1, 2 & 4 I can see Azure Lake Zone from the multiplayer on Sonic 3 or seeing the piranha robots from Sonic 2 in the 3rd screenshot. Just small references like that make this game seem very nostalgic but also very new at the same time.

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I hate to keep going on about the graphics, but Episode 2 seems to pushing out the boat for the graphics and new art direction. The level of detail is just astounding especially in the snowy Christmas-like level with all the lighting effects and the incredible detail in the background with the northern lights and the buildings in the background. Also one can see that the level has some reference to the Ice Cap Zone from Sonic 3 as does the carnival-like level that’s similar to the Carnival Night Zone also from Sonic 3, but this seems more like a theme park carnival. Even the character models for Sonic, Tails and Metal Sonic seem to look good with good lighting, sharp detail and a much closer resemblance to the modern versions of themselves (that mainly applies to Sonic & Tails as they have a much more similar look to their most recent sonic game outing, Sonic Generations).

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Anyways let’s talk about the potential gameplay aspects that these screenshots represent for Sonic 4: Episode 2. Well from what I can gather it seems like the Co-op aspect of gameplay is back from Sonic 3 with Sonic & Tails being able to interact with each other (etc: Tails carrying Sonic while flying), even in the water! One of the screenshots looks like Tails & Sonic are doing some sort of epic high 5 and I don’t really know what the represents but it looks interesting. We can see that you’ll fight Metal Sonic while chasing after him similar to some previous Robotnik/Eggman battles where you had to chase after him and hit him as the same time. And in this last screenshot we can see a special zone level design similar to that of Sonic 2 with some design elements from Sonic Heroes which is a great thing in my opinion.

Obviously until this game gets a trailer and some gameplay videos we won’t know what to truly expect, but from what I can see here I am proper excited for this game now, the graphical detail is on such an absurd level now than before from the much better-looking character models to the new and interesting locations and detail in the foreground and background. We also see that Metal Sonic will be very-much involved throughout the game and with the new co-op gameplay that comes with the addition of Tails we could have some interesting new gameplay to try out when this game comes out later in this year, I just hope Sega get it right this time.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Media, Video Games

 

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