Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 box art
System: PS3, X360, Wii Review Rating Legend
Dev: Sega (Sonic Team) 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Sega 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 12, 2010 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Aside from this modern admission, though, Sonic 4 probably plays, a little surprisingly, like Sonic’s original game, though you thankfully have the convenience of the hedgehog’s trademark spin-dash. That means level design is a little more open, with a lot of different areas to explore in each stage. Special stages also make a comeback here, putting a new twist on the “rotating maze” that houses the chaos emeralds of the original Sonic the Hedgehog.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot

Sonic 4 also surpasses the original game in level length—whereas the first Sonic had three lengthy stages (with each final stage closing with a boss battle) there are three whole stages plus a boss stage per zone here. It’s a slight difference, but still one that makes zones feel longer. Sadly, the lengthy and sometime-obtuse level design of the original Sonic the Hedgehog is also still present, and that can affect Sonic’s speed quite a bit. The little guy seems to move as though he has lead weights attached to his legs, taking a full second or two to actually begin picking up speed from the slow walk he starts with. Not since the original Sonic, which didn’t have the design advantage of the hedgehog’s spin-dash, has Sonic felt this sluggish to start. It’s a big problem for such a loose character to feel rigid, though it can generally be righted by jumping and doing an air boost forward by tapping the jump button again, a move from Sonic Adventure that instantly launches Sonic into full speed. Still, given that there are stages designed around outrunning massive, level-destroying traps, not to mention the amount of speed-reducing obstacles you encounter throughout the game, it’s enough of a problem to mention.

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That gripe aside, Sonic 4 is very much a return to form for the series. After so many years of watching poor Sonic put through the wringer time and again, it’s nice to finally see him back in two dimensions. Sonic 4 isn’t a perfect revival of the series’ old-school heritage, and not every gameplay element works perfectly—rolling a giant Indiana Jones-style boulder down a track and having to use pillar switches to solve minimal puzzles come to mind—but there’s enough old-school here to satiate hardcore Sonic fans. With as tarnished as this series’ reputation is, this is pretty good first effort back. I only expect more from here on out (a return of the elemental shield types from Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles would be great, too).

By Steve Haske
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.3
Graphics
Sonic 4’s graphics are lush, with just a hint of cel-shading, making for a good-looking, if sometimes simple aesthetic.
3.0
Control
Controls can be a little finicky, particularly when trying to launch Sonic forward with a boost jump. The little guy also feels a bit rigid when starting to move from a stop.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Although there aren’t many tracks here that match the originals, some of the music is good. Sound effects are spot-on classic Sonic.
4.2
Play Value
It’s not a perfect retro revival and can be blown through in a few hours, but this is a much better—and purer—Sonic experience than we’ve seen in years. The difficulty can range from easy to very hard; the final boss is particularly ridiculous.
4.0
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Experience Sonic’s triumphant console return to 2D after over a decade.
  • Over twenty stages.
  • Time-attack mode.
  • Collect all the chaos emeralds to play as Super Sonic.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot - click to enlarge Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot - click to enlarge Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot - click to enlarge Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot - click to enlarge Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot - click to enlarge Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot - click to enlarge Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot - click to enlarge Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot - click to enlarge Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot - click to enlarge Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot - click to enlarge Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot - click to enlarge Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 screenshot - click to enlarge

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