|System: X360, PS3, 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. 13, 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 Sonics original game, though you thankfully have the convenience of the hedgehogs 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 4 also surpasses the original game in level lengthwhereas 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. Its 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 Sonics 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 didnt have the design advantage of the hedgehogs spin-dash, has Sonic felt this sluggish to start. Its 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, its enough of a problem to mention.
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, its nice to finally see him back in two dimensions. Sonic 4 isnt a perfect revival of the series old-school heritage, and not every gameplay element works perfectlyrolling a giant Indiana Jones-style boulder down a track and having to use pillar switches to solve minimal puzzles come to mindbut theres 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).
CCC Freelance Writer