Subtitled “reasons to get your hopes up and reasons to get them down again,” IGN takes a crack at what most of us have been doing for the past week and a half. The catch here is that it is a well-written, down-the-middle article with no bias (be surprised).
IGN breaks down the game in the style, gameplay, music, and design department. Also, they talk about the benefits and detractors of listening to us, the fans. Here’s an except regarding “Speed:”
ONE UP: When I was 10 years old, I would boot up the Master System version of the very first Sonic game and play as far as the third stage of Green Hill Zone. This was where you would fight Eggman after climbing a couple of hills. At the top, however, I would avoid the fight. Instead, I would tip Sonic back down the incline, roll him into a ball, and look on in awe as the screen blew by with increasing speed.
As such, it’s pretty obvious that speed is something of a hallmark for Sonic, and the initial Needlemouse trailer’s claim that ‘speed returns’ seems to confirm that Sega’s marketing department is aware of this. There’s promise here: for some, there are few gaming pleasures that rank with the thrill of keeping a perfectly streamlined run alive as Sonic spins, flips, and bounces towards the end of a stage.
ONE DOWN: But there is cause for concern. There is something very important from my childhood play that keeps on getting overlooked: momentum. Even on the Master System version of the game – a version that was, at best, a mere shadow of its Mega Drive sibling – there was a palpable sense of gravity. Sonic would gain speed when tumbling down slopes, and he would likewise lose it when climbing them. Overlooking the importance of the physics engine in the classic Sonic games is arguably the greatest misstep that this franchise has made.
The reason for this is actually pretty simple: the pleasure of the speed in these games came from the flow of maintaining the blue critter’s momentum; not in simply pressing a button to blast through the stages before you can even take in the scenery you’ve just left ten screens behind you. Most of the newer Sonic games are actually faster than the… well… the good ones. The pleasure in the speed came from earning it, and for this to work the game needs to slow down just enough to allow for twitch reflexes to actually be rewarded.
It’s the picture of Sonic 4 levelheadedness.