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!