‘Project Needlemouse’ Is Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 is the official name of what has been known for months as ‘Project Needlemouse’. The news was announced on Gamespot in conjunction with Sega of America early this morning, along with a teaser trailer. The game is being developed by Sonic Team.

Featuring 3D models on a 2D plane, Sonic the Hedgehog: Episode 4 aims to be a return to form for the platforming series. Gamespot ran a 48-second trailer of the game – only three of which included a full-screen display of what we should expect. Corkscrew twists from Sonic 2 and double-screen loops from Sonic 3 were present in the brief time we had to see the action.

“While the game is a brand-new adventure, it will definitely pick up after Sonic & Knuckles. However, what you are looking at is the beginning of a new story arc,” said brand manager Ken Balough to Gamespot on the Sonic 4 reveal. “We’re going to deliver a Genesis-era Sonic game as if it were created today that goes to the core of what classic Sonic fans desire. This means [the fan] gets to judge us on our work each step of the way, and we plan on delivering that goal in a big way.”

The “Episode 1” part of the game’s title suggests episodic content – Balough was keen to stress that Sonic 3 & Knuckles were essentially two parts of the same game, and that Sega are going to tap into that some more with this downloadable title. Looks like the company is taking the whole “back to the roots” deal quite literally, right down to the ‘lock-on’ technology.

Although this is being tagged as a return to classic form, Balough announced that the homing attack – seen in modern titles since Sonic Adventure – will be added to Sonic’s roster of moves, which will include the Spin Dash and ‘Power Sneakers’ (which we assume will be a power up rather than a specific move). Players will be able to compete with one another for the fastest times via online leaderboards.

Now, Wii owners – don’t feel left out, because the game is hitting the WiiWare channel as well as Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network. Balough said that in terms of content all versions will be the same, but “the Wii will be at 480p, while the XBLA and PSN versions will run at 1080p. However, for certain areas of the game, the Wii will be able to use motion control, and the PS3 will be able to use the Sixaxis.”

The music is said to channel the 16-bit roots of the platforming series, according to Balough; “It will sound like an evolution from the original series. Expect to hear very familiar tempos and styles of music that resonates with 16-bit games but also has a modern appeal.”

So, let’s review; 2D adventure with 3D models, palm trees, badniks, corkscrews, loop-de-loops, 16-bit evolved music, continuation from Sonic & Knuckles, ‘lock-on’ technology and a homing attack; for Wii, PS3 and 360. We can’t really say any fairer than that!

Known as ‘Project Needlemouse’ for nearly six months since its official reveal on 9/9/09, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 has been the subject of an insane amount of fan fervor – more so than past Sonic titles if only for the fact that Sega has stayed relatively silent on releasing concrete details. What little information was drip-fed to the community (including badnik concept artwork and images of palm trees) resulted in pages and pages of excited speculation on forums and blogs alike.

Now we know for sure what Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is all about; what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below, and stick with TSS for future details!

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Founder of The Sonic Stadium and creator/co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic convention. Loves talking about Sonic the Hedgehog in his spare time. Likes Sonic Colours a little too much for his own good, apparently.


  1. Hoping it doesn’t go all “Phantom Menace” on us! I noticed Jar Jar Binks wasn’t crossed off the needlemouse list, so there’s a possibility he’ll rear his ugly head!
    Looking forward to the music the most here, I shall reserve judgement until I’ve seen more than 3 seconds of footage!

  2. Anybody else notice the Beta running animation for Sonic 2?

    Also, it seems that back at the Sega blog, people are already pissing all over their keyboards just because they’re not using Sonic’s chubby design.

  3. I don’t fucking believe it…They actually called it Sonic the Hedgehog 4! O_o

    Well, right now only one thing pisses me off…it’s download only. Why in the hell did they do that? -_-‘

    Ah the hell with it. I’ll find some way to get it. Great job Sega. Looking great again. :3

    Well then my fellow members of the original Genesis Era…Is everybody fucking happy now!? XD

  4. its not ecen a full paclage game im dissapoiinted you get used to it when your a fan of sonic
    i stille have sonic and sehga all star racing to play

    but seriosly ill get used to the idea

    5 4 3 2 1 ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    see im back but still one question i wanna ask everyone while theyre here

    ifs its following the genesis storyline will its have cutcene like sonic unleashed and will tails amy knuckles metal sonic be there we saw eggman

  5. I really love what Sega is doing here with Sonic the Hedgehog 4,It looks fun too me from those few seconds of gameplay. 🙂

  6. The music….
    2D with the modern touch?
    I’m kinda afraid of that ><;
    well I wasn't a fan of the teaser music in the Sega homepage….
    Let's hope it works.

    Well yay!
    Sonic 4….not happy with the title in my opinion but the game itself is like extreme.
    I'm happy they kept Sonic's current look…design. I was worried about that.

    Well…goody! We still get Sonic's current moves and such! 8D

    I'm mostly a 3D Sonic fan…and actually..I'm happy with the outcome here… it is 2D with 3D!! 8D

  7. That looked great!!! I cannot wait for this, but it really reminds me of New Super Mario Bros.

  8. Someone who has read the flash says the following:

    5 zones from what it seems
    july release
    final platform is iphone

    Dunno if trolling or not

  9. What’s tripping me out is the mysterious question mark hanging out with the system names. In both the trailer and on the site, it says it’ll be on Xbox Live, Playstation Network, WiiWare, and then one more system that just has a question mark over it. I got my prayer answered by there even BEING a Sonic 4.. but could I be so bold as to wish that mystery system is a Dreamcast 2?

  10. the new sonic 4 page says new infos again at midnight!!!
    i guess the release will be 23.6.10.

  11. Don’t forget off the official site that they are keeping one of the platforms for the game a secret as for now, =O. My guesses would be the iTouch or PC, but I guess we’ll have to see when that timer runs up, =3.


  12. Giddy and gleeful. I only wish the series has potential to be a retail game someday.

    Im glad they used the homing attack. It was a joy to have in Sonic Megamix, as was the light speed dash, and niether one were game breakers ( But it was an extremely hacked game…) I’m also pleased that they used modern Sonic, but I hope this isn’t a reboot. I wan’t this to be a series that exists alongside the current one ( That’s not to say the modern series doesn’t still need drastic improvements )

  13. finally! ^-^ a wiiware game that i actually look foward too! so… how is the sonic timeline affected by this game if it takes right off after S&K3?

  14. Why does it have to be download.? I can’t play it now cause I don’t download games. Looks nifty….

  15. Its on youtube. Videos are poping up eveywhere. This is one of the many sonic games going down in my hall of speed as a game to remember. Its great for so many reasons, they’ve taken Sonic 1, 2, and 3, and it also seems like they looked over the green hill from Sonic adventure 2 ((bc it was an old game being reused in a 3-D perspective)) and after looking over that, they follow the foot steps of the fans to see wat we wnted, not just only the current gen but the past as well an know theyve mixed the past and the present together to hopefully mke a game everyone will like.Im having high hopes that no one should b dissipointed, now all they need to do is dilieve a theme song from bentley or Crush40 xD NAH they need some old quality music and that sexy sound like the music from sonic unleashed. =D
    Im Lunar Sonic and I have I hopes.

  16. Well they should at least use sonics old design if it’s Sonic 4…

    Oh by the way, no one knew you would call it that sega. Very secretive and smart.

  17. I am very disappointed already…. Sonic runs like a fagged… as in his frame rate is very slow…. so they make up for it….. by trying to make him move faster…..I don’t have high hopes because Mr. Naka left and all the old people who made the old sonic is gone besides from a few here and there, you can tell they got lazy or very noobish by the sonic rush series, if you compare sonic’s running from sonic rush adventure to the original sonic rush.. sonic rush adventures frame rate is slower by allot compared to the first 1, and this… this is even slower.. even for per-running it looks like he is jogging then pushed forward to make him look fast.

  18. I would have much rather it be a full physical release to be honest. I’ll try and get it from Xbox Live even though I don’t have the wireless reciever for my 360 (yet.) Simply because I want it in 1080p.

    I am praying this won’t just end up looking and playing like Sonic Rush. I can’t really see a difference between the two so far.

    Still! SEGA are really going all out in the Genesis-era spirit and the episode 1 subtitle strongly insinuates there’s more to come after this, but I just hope it doesn’t become a bit of a gimmick thing, like the “storybook series” and that eventually they’ll finally learn the only way forward for Sonic, is back!

    Personally, I want another full 3D adventure to come soon, hopefully in time for Sonic’s 20th, and inspired by the inevitable roaring success of Sonic 4. Forget Sonic 2006, Sonic Adventures 1 & 2 says they can do it and do it right.

  19. This is absolutely the greatest news ever! Sonic the Hedgehog 4, an idea I thought only fans would think about, SEGA is now taking very seriously to make a classic Sonic game. Screw Sonic06, this is what we had in mind for “return to roots”.
    So, it will introduce a new story arc, and will probably erase all that happened before Sonic Adventure? Are you sure this is the same SEGA that created games such as Shadow the Hedgehog, Sonic Riders and Sonic06? I thought they were too stubborn to make a series only based on the classics after so many games like these.
    I can say some good things about these three games, but they have almost nothing to do with Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

    I can’t wait to see what comes next, and how into this SEGA really is.

  20. Wow… I’m… speechless…

    Sonic the Hedgehog 4? Honestly, I hate the idea. Making a game that would FEEL like a “Sonic 4” is one thing, but actually making it “Sonic 4” ugh… kill the one thing that separates Sonic from Nintendo why don’t you (A plot line in relatively correct order)

    Still, it does look freaking epic… twice as epic enough to make up for the whole Sonic 4 thing

  21. i heard some people are quite pissed off with the download option sega took but once all the episodes come out after awhile they might release it on a disk with all content on it for people who dont have Xbox Live/PSN And Wii Ware like that Watchmen whatever it called 2 Part game that was first released on XBLA Then later got released on a full disk for people who dont have XBL so some sonic fans might not be left out personaly i love to a disk version than a download aswell

  22. Also, I just noticed something- A new story arc: Essentially killing Sonic Adventure’s Story line? NO SHADOW!? AND SONIC CHRONICLES NOW MADE POINTLESS!?!?

    And why isn’t anyone mentioning Sonic CD when everyone refers to the “classics?”

  23. Honestly? HONESTLY?

    Fuck you Sega. For all the heartattacks you gave me during the staggering wait. <3


  24. @PK: to be fair it doesn’t “kill” any of those storylines… because they happened, we experienced them, and we shall always remember them fondly or otherwise. I think its perfectly fine, in fact id say its AWESOME, that SEGA have finally decided to take this drastic turn in the series that doesn’t necessarily have to honour those later games just because they were made… think of it is a parallel universe or something? it’s all just fantasy anyway =D and I’m still hoping for Chronicles 2 whatever happened, because that was awesome!

    On another note, I am fricking LOVING this news. I was never quite sure this game would ever happen and after loving those genesis games for years even during the era of Adventures/Heroes etc. it seemed like those days were truly just gone.
    The only thing is, that new run is a bit rubbish. I seriously hope they change that.

  25. This has literally made my week. Sonic returning to what Sonic should be, always was in my opinion. Maybe I can finally give my Megadrive a break. A short one, of course.

    I hope this brings back the entire genre, not just Sonic. Platformers are in sore need of a revival, run of the mill FPS’ have killed everything.

  26. Ive been waiting for hours to get out of work to see the teaser, and all i can say is..>Worth it! :3 welcome back Sonic old buddy, Me and the rest of the Megadrive/Genesis crowd missed you

  27. Graphics looks great, everything sounds great… but that character model and running animation are CRAP. His legs are hardly moving and it just looks awkward–not cool. It looks like they just plopped in the Unleashed model and called it a day. Ugly as anything. Huge mistake.

    I want classic Sonic back :'(

  28. Unfortunately, I’m also aboard the classic Sonic design bandwagon… why fix it when it ain’t broken?
    Homing attack is also an itch on the back of my head, but I’ll learn to live with it over time.

    Those are my only 2 squables about in game material, my last complaint is about the emblem, it doesn’t match the silhouette Needlemouse emblem we’ve all been staring at for the past 4 months at all.

    With that off my chest, I’m looking forward to it, best wishes Sega and thank you for remembering the old school fans

  29. If it is really supposed to be right after Sonic & Knuckles in continuity, Robotnik should be wearing his old clothes.

  30. WOW just WOW I am so happy exticed everything at once please sega ive never been so hyped dont let this be another unleashed or sonic 06 !!!!

  31. Finally! Sonic is back! Woohoo! Plus the game will be made available via the PSN Network, Xbox Live, and Wii Ware., isn’t that great? I would still be keeping my eyes open for the reviews, I’m pretty sure more raves than rants.

  32. This is definitely the game everyone’s been waiting for! A 2D side-scroller with the current 3D designs still used. Let’s hope this is the game that brings the series back!

  33. For the people complaining about Sonic’s slow running, please remember that we’re looking at less than 10 seconds of what’s likely just beta testing. I mean, the original Sonic sprites and some similar animation if you weren’t taking a loop at full speed. :/

  34. Hope this is a midquel. 10 and more years of Sonic games like sonic Adventure suddenly becoming useless would piss me off more than anything you’d know.

    Been a Sonic fan since the first, and I can honestly say the only 3d Sonics I didnt like were Shadow and STH 06. Quit pissing everywhere about Sonic’s green eyes and lean build. Since when does a fat animal run at mach 7?

  35. This is just the best news ever regarding Sonic this year. The level looks beautiful! I didn’t think it was coming to the Wii at all. I hope it goes well for Sega too.

    On the blog though are loads of comments by people freaking out over the fact that he’s ‘not classic looking’ and ‘why are his eyes green?’…shut up and get over it please, his new design is better imo.

  36. @ Role Martyr X

    THANK YOU!!! It’s nice to see that someone else doesn’t hate the 3D games!! I’ve been a fan since the first, & I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every 3D game more than the Mega Drive and SEGA CD ones (excluding Sonic Heroes).

  37. @FinalArcadia

    I don’t know if I liked them better…hard decision to me. All I’m saying is I just enjoy Sonic. Doesn’t matter how it’s given to me.

  38. “Since when does a fat animal run at mach 7?”

    He wasn’t fat for god’s sake. And since when does an animal with 50% of its body mass hanging off the back of its head run at mach 7?

  39. Still don’t like that it’s download only but if it’s on the Wii. I do have an old points card, could probably go to a friends house and download it. how many Nintendo Points will it cost? this way I can probably save my points.

  40. @Role Martyr X:

    Well done good sir. I totally agree with you (though I actually enjoy the occasional bout of ’06 {come on, Wave Ocean was kick-ass, a total return to form}), when people nag at me about Sonic’s new look, all I can say to them is… IT’S THE FREAKING SERIES PROGRESSING!!! Don’t like it, go stare at Mario for the next five minutes.

    However… I absolutely ABHOR the idea of this being a “download only” title. I prefer to have my games on a disc, and considering I have no MSPoints, I can’t download this. TYPICAL! Sega always has to make ONE mistake… ¬_¬

    ~Mr. Spazzo.~

  41. Im personally looking forward to this game, but it’s not like I didn’t like the 3d games. To me, the 2d games represented the challenge of the series. (I cant tell you how many times I screamed at the nightmare pit in sonic 2’s mystic labrynth) and the 3d represented the speed. (Green Forest or Speed Highway anyone?) IMO, the only bad 3d game was 06 since it was totally rushed and released incomplete for the holiday season. If that game had more time in the oven, it could have been a good game as well.

  42. *sigh* I never thought I’d see that day when I’d be conflicted or even disappointed over a Sonic game. I must be getting old… >_<

    Since I'm unwanted on the SSMB without a shadow of a doubt, I'll have to voice my opinion here.

    When this game was first announced, I shook my head. I'm a guy who likes progression in the games I play, from the gameplay to the story. To find out that Sega was going backwards with this one and basically giving in to the whining and bitching everyone's been doing since Heroes pissed me off. When trying to voice my disappointment, I got backhanded by the community as a whole and lost a great friend and comrade (Dreadknux). The latter was mostly my fault, I admit, but that's beside the point. Whatever happened to Sonic running towards the future? He's not the type of guy to look back and that, for me, was one of the things I liked most about the series; it kept going despite scrutiny and ridicule.

    The fact that this is Sonic 4 now disappoints me further, 'cause it's not going to help any. Critics will like it, I'm sure (they like any 2D Sonic be default), but the classic fans and elitists will abhor it purely because it ain't Genesis-style in every way, shape and/or form. I've said it before and damn it, I'll say it again: NO GAME IS PERFECT. This includes the overrated Genesis trilogy and even the Adventure series.

    There are a few things I DO like about this one. First, Sonic's model. One of the things that worried me about this game was that it was going to be a straight up Genesis rehash, including the character model, but it's not. It's modern. This, to me, solidifies the fact that Sonic is Sonic. The timeline differences between character design are pretty much irrelevant at this point. So, that, at least, is a plus in my book.

    Also, Dr. Robotnik. He's modern, too. This goes with his nemesis and that's good. People will still bitch, of course (I'm not gonna waste my time discussing the name "issue"), but whatever.

    As much as I would enjoy it, though, I hope that this game ain't voiced, if only to quell the wave of flames that would ensue from such a move.

    The fact that it's downloadable, however, annoys me. Not everyone has the ability to download stuff onto their console and for some, it's too damn complicated/expensive. This is why Super Street Fighter IV NOT being DLC is a good thing. When I get my own Wii or a 360/PS3, I'm not gonna be able to download stuff right off the bat. With this, it's like I'm forced to do so anyway, and that pisses me off.

    Lastly, the main problem I have with Sonic 4 (geez, that feels weird to say) is that, as previously stated, it's not going to fix a damn thing. This could've been a pure old-school copout like Mega Man and the fans would still find something to fuss over. The fanbase is gonna remain divided no matter what, and this game, this Sonic 4 that people have been throwing tantrums for, isn't going to be the return to glory that's needed.

    I don't know, I suppose I'll give this one a shot (I have to anyway; Concept: "Mobius" can't ignore this one, by any means), but something tells me that it'll be the same thing I played to death while growing up. I just hope there are SOME surprises to keep this game fresh.

  43. Well I’m REALLY hoping that what they do is, since its going to in parts (since this is Episode 1), I’m hoping release all the episodes together on a disc (kinda like the Watchmen game on the PS3). One can only hope… I think I’d download it AND buy the disc if they do that though. lol

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