This kind of article is usually relegated to the community blog, but I believe that it is newsworthy enough to sit up here.
One of my fangaming buddies from SFGHQ, Endri (creator of Sonic Attitude), got the chance to play Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. How? He was invited to playtest the X360 version of the game on a Developer’s Console. He had to run in and out, but he managed to post his impressions at Sonic Retro. He will be elaborating further, but here is what he has said thus far (keep in mind that he is from Brazil and English is not his native language):
Early in the morning today, I, and a other few (un)lucky people, had the opportunity to playtest the X-BOX 360 version of the game. In fact, any of you could do it as well, provided you own a Developer’s Console, or a J-TAGed system.
I’ll try to give a very briefely analysis of what were my thoughts about this game.
Graphically (and artistically, I must say), the game is very beautiful, even thought I can’t really eat that celshading effect they put in Sonic’s model, to make it look like a differed shaded Genesis sprite.Something important to notice is that, the 3D models are not really 3D models, instead, they are sprites of pre-rendered 3D models. SO we are pretty much dealing with a 2D game here. That goes for everything else but Sonic, since I’m not sure as if Sonic is really a sprite itself, but I pretty much think it is. THat might explain the akward animations.
The level design. I played through Splash Hill Zone entirely up until Casino Street Zone. Splash Hill ZOne is pretty much Neo Leaf Forest Zone (for those who don’t know, Sonic Advance 2’s first stage). Everything about it looked like Leaf Forest. Hell, even the level art itself reminds Leaf Forest some way or another. The level design pretty much encourages the player to keep going to the right, except when the levels abruptuly decides to force you to go in the opposite direction by inserting unexpected walls, making you jump, jump to the left, jump to the right, keep running to the right. It is especially strange, considering the level layouts encourages you to keep running right. The acts are actually considerably huge in size, but quite short in time, much like Sonic Advance 2 stages. I don’t remember any level especific gimmick on the first stage, which is pretty unfortunate. You gotta love Casino Street Zone, since it’s freaking Casino Night Zone. It’s exactly identical. The colors, the tiles, everything. The level layout however is much like Music Plant Zone from Sonic Advance 2. A level that right encourages speed. Ha, about the Special Stages, they are quite fun actually, it is Sonic 1’s Distorted Dimension, but with a new twist: instead of controling Sonic, you control the stage itself. So yeah, my oversight was right after all. In terms of difficult, I found it harder than Sonic 1’s Special Stages (and provided, they were rathereasy). I belive they are going to be even fun/harder with the motion controls of the Wiimote/Six-axis/DualShock3, since you have to rotate the stage using the trigger buttons in the X-BOX 360 version (RT rotates to the right, LT to the left, etc). Looks like a pinball of sort. Oh, don’t let me get started on the bossfight. You might already imagine how it is by now.
The gameplay is pretty solid, actually. Which is a great thing. However, the game pretty much have the physics of Sonic Rush. I hate I hate I hate I hate I hate, I can’t stress enough how I hate the jump! Fucking jump! It’s the worst jump I’ve ever seem in a Sonic game to date. Apparently they tried to mimic the ‘the longer you hold down the jump button, the longer you accent’ mechanic of the classic games, but as a result, they fucked the freaking cake with it. The jump is all over the place: if you rapidly tap the jump button, Sonic almost don’t jump; if you hold a little and release, Sonic starts accending, but hebreaks to the floor as soon as you release the jump button. If you hold the jump button all the way down, Sonic jumps like if he had touched a spring, he jumps so high and almost no gravity, it’s like you are jumping on the freaking moon. And I thought the jump ing the Rush series was bad. This one is even worse. The jump is so bad that I preffer to keep running right to win really. Don’t let me get started on the spin dash. THe spin dash don’t have enough power, no matter what. It behaves much like Knuckles’ Chaotix spin dash. Running rewards you with much more speed than spindashing.
My final remark of this game? It’s freaking Sonic Advance 2! It’s written Sonic Advance 2 all over the place. It is Sonic Advance 2 all over again. In fact, they could have named this game Sonic High Speed, and I wouldn’t mind it at all. But it is supposed to be Sonic fucking 4. To be honest, the name Sonic High Speed would fit this game better.
I am afraid to say that we are actually dealing with the very final product here, folks. Since the developers already sent the software for the Microsoft Evaluation Proccess. Additionally, the game’s software was sent to ESBR game content analizys team. Considering the game is already been analized and rated by ESBR, the development team cannot overgo any significative change in the game, visually or otherwise, which therefore pretty much means that this is what the game looks like.
I’m in a hurry here, and I’m sorry to not give a better insight on the game, but I’ll make sure to edit this post or whatever, whenever I have the time.
So, to recap:
- Sonic 4 is pretty.
- Sonic 4 plays like Advance 2/Sonic Rush.
- The special stages are the Sonic 1 levels with a twist, rotating the special stage instead of controlling Sonic.
- Spindash… still gimped.
- Casino Street Zone looks exactly like Casino Night Zone.
I’m going to catch up with Endri and talk to him about his playtest. If he posts any more information, I will update the entry here.