E3 2010: Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Second Opinion

E3 2010: Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Second Opinion

Since it was taking me so long to get around to this, Jason offered to do the Sonic 4 preview first. Of course, then he ended up REDOING it, so be sure to check it out. But now, on the last day of the show, I think I’ve finally logged enough game play time on all versions of the game to tell you guys exactly what kind of game this is.

Sonic 4 is an evolution of the classics. For all the screaming of how this game was “Sonic Rush 3”, it really doesn’t feel like it. For one, this game is based around physics and momentum. There is no “press this button to go fast” mechanic here. If you don’t have enough speed to conquer a hill, you have to step back and try again. If you lose your momentum in the middle of a loop, you’ll find yourself rolling back the other way, if not coming to a complete halt. The spin dash will give you a lot of momentum, but will eventually peter out unless the level gives you additional momentum. There are booster pads in this game, but they are used sparingly, and don’t fill the levels like they do in the 3D games, kind of like they did in Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant Zone.

In short, Sonic 4 does a lot of what made the classics so great. But what about the new mechanics? Well, this is where the whole “evolution” aspect of the game comes in. This game isn’t like Megaman 9, which basically emulated the early NES titles in graphics, game play, and mechanics. Rather, this is a true sequel, with different mechanics that make for a different kind of game. The most pronounced and controversial additions in this game is the homing attack. How does that figure in?

I would like to get something out of the way right now: the homing attack, in and of itself, does not give Sonic any additional momentum. It doesn’t make him go “insta fast”. Rather, doing an un-targeted homing attack gives you the same amount of momentum that a normal jump would give you. Hitting enemies with a homing attack, meanwhile will completely kill your momentum. The homing attack feels like a natural addition in this game; many of the things you can use the homing attack to reach, such as springs or pulleys, you can access just as effectively without it. What the homing attack gives the game is a certain tempo, allowing you to quickly move from one object to another in quick succession in a way that wouldn’t really be possible without it. It doesn’t make the game any easier, though. It could prove to be an interesting exploit for speed runners as well.

Perhaps the only problem with the homing attack is that some of the enemy placement requires its usage. When Sonic rolls off of a ramp, Sonic does not remain in his spinball form, meaning you then after to use the homing attack on enemies. There are also enemies you will need to homing attack attack when bouncing off of a spring,  in order to access higher areas.It is, of course, fully possible to beat the levels on the showfloor without using the move, but I would love to see a mode that removed the homing attack, and change the placement of the enemies somewhat to allow for some good old fashioned bouncing. Of course, some sort of move that allows Sonic to turn into a ball in mid air would have to be added, which wouldn’t be unheard of since such of a move was used in Sonic Adventure 2 and Triple Trouble. But really, this “problem” is something I only present in the interest of informing the old school fans who say they refuse to use it.

All that said, the homing attack is actually a surprisingly fun addition to the game. It’s been fairly well implemented, and while classic fans may cry foul, it did nothing to detract from my enjoyment of the demo.

In addition to the physics, the old school level design is also back. The levels are multilayered, with several paths possible throughout all three acts. The upper path is the most difficult to get to, and not one I was really able to reach in my playthroughs, so I can’t tell you much about it. But all of you begging for branching paths in Sonic games, well…here it is.

Honestly, as I played through this demo, I had to keep asking myself…what where people complaining about? If this was basically the final product, Sonic 4 probably would have been the best 2D Sonic game since Sonic Pocket Adventure on the Neo Geo Pocket. The level design is superb, the physics, while not dead on exact to the original games, where pretty close, and homing attack is more like a fun addition to the formula rather than “spam to win”. My only real complaint with this game is that Sonic starts off a little too slow. No, this isn’t what Sonic 4 would have been like on the Genesis. No, this isn’t like Megaman 9. Rather than copying the old games beat to beat, it took what made the old games great and forged its own path with the formula.  This game is exactly what Sonic fans have been asking for for years. It’s just not quite what was expected from a Sonic the Hedgehog 4.


  1. Now this sounds different.
    However the uncurling thing seems to be a problem. Hope they remove it until release.
    2010 is a REAL good year.

  2. @Nuckles87: If you Spin Dash up a ramp you uncurl out of ball form once you’re in the air. It can be quite inconvenient if there’s enemies after a ramp and you’re pretty much forced to use the homing attack. It’s a small thing, but could make a significant difference in the final product.

    Overall I’m happy with Sonic 4! =D

  3. Very well done preview buddy. I didn’t think about it before, but the momentum really does have to be earned. I remember having to spin dash to get over large ramps myself.

    Like I said before, the homing attack is essential for a high speed run, but not for beating the levels.

  4. they need to remove the HA sections(you know the spring then HA in to 2 bubbles thing) but they could leave the homing attack sections when you spindash up a ramp so that if they fix it to not uncurl when spindashing in a ramp you(those that dont want using HA including me) could just bounce of a bubble without using the HA and in the addition basing at how much you powered the spindash of the ramp when bouncing into the Bubble Badnik you get extremely high and skip the other bubbles ahead if you want to do a speedrun good idea huh(and yes for those that want to use the HA you still can like in SA1 remember you were in ballform but you could use it anyways)

  5. I liken fans who refuse to use the homing attack in Sonic 4 to fans who refuse to use the Spin Dash in Sonic 2. Whatever happened to running back and forth untill you had enough momentum to get up that slope, guys?

    That said, I too would like to see Sonic not uncurl. They can still leave the rest of the “baddies-after-ramps” thing the same though.

  6. @Matt yeah but they cant leave the “baddies-after-springs” cuz we’d have to use the HA and seriously i dont get what the big deal is about the spindash.The Spindash to me is classic and added alot to sonic 2 and sonic 3&K but i wouldnt liked the spindash in sonic 1 cuz sonic 1 was meant to be played without the spindash it has its own unique feel

  7. @Matt see one post above of yours to see a brilliant idea i came up with for the uncurling issue

  8. “i dont get what the big deal is about the spindash.The Spindash to me is classic and added alot to sonic 2 and sonic 3&K but i wouldnt liked the spindash in sonic 1 cuz sonic 1 was meant to be played without the spindash it has its own unique feel”


    i don’t get what the big deal is about the homing attack.The Homing Attack to me is classic and adds alot to sonic 4 and will do in future episodes but i wouldnt liked the homing attack in sonic 1/2/3&K cuz thoose games were meant to be played without the homing attack it has its own unique feel.


    p.d: I don’t like the homing attack.

  9. @imarafan you seiously cant compare the spindash or insta-shield with the HA.The HA just defies the whole classic moveset.With the HA its really easy to get to alt routes and thats BORING remember the classic sonic games in them you had to pick momentum,pick speed and to not let that momentum break time your jump right and BAM your on a really high passage now that was interesting.See what i mean using the HA to go to high passages is really easy,uninteresint and not challenging at all i miss the old classic games where at times you do that which i post above or you move from platform to platform now if the HA sections the spring-kill 2 baddies then got alt route are removed and fixing so sonic woulnt uncurl i woulnt have a problem oh and removing the HA sections where there is a bottomless pit that way i also wouldnt have a problem if the HA sections (the spindashing a ramp then 2 badniks were there if sonic wouldnt uncurl but rather stay in his ball form(and yes who likes to use the HA would still have the option even in ball form though if you would want to speedrun you can just bounce of a Bubble Badnik instead and skip the others ahead thus no killing momemntum))you really have to think about all these things through imarafan not just kiss segas butt remember they are taking feedback

  10. Sigh. The point is, there is NOT a “classic moveset”. You yourself suggest that the spindash changed the feel of Sonic 2 from Sonic 1. Remember when you had to build momentum to get up the slope? Now you just crouch down and press A a few times and BAM you’re up there. Tch. Boring.*

    *I don’t believe the Spin Dash makes Sonic 2 boring. This is, again, a paraphrase of the exact argument you seem to be making about the Homing Attack.

    In the Splash Hill videos alone I saw the player miss several chances at shortcuts, even ones involving the HA, or otherwise be injured or set back, due to lack of precision timing and reflexes.

    And taking feedback means just that, positive and negative feedback. Just because you personally don’t like the look of the HA does not mean that anyone who disagrees with you is kissing “segas butt” as you put it. As impressions are showing, there are people who genuinely think that the HA has been implemented well.

  11. @Matt thats just ignorant people saying that cuz they havent played the classics like nearly in 10 years and forgot how they were or they are SEGA fanboys and no spindashing up a slope isnt boring at all

  12. The homing attack is rather demeaning towards momentum-gaining gameplay. However, it would be completely optional to use if they would just keep Sonic curled up upon launching from a ramp. If they could just fix that I would be happy enough.

  13. @Shoruyken @Matt

    I wish there wasnt so much b*tching going on about HA. I also feel deeply insulted by the “kissing sega’s butt” comment. wtf! i like the original StH series and SA series equally, so i feel like sega would have done me (and thousands of other fans) an injustice if they had only catered to one party. One has to remember that this game is not only for old school fans like us but it is also for younger players (which is why i believe they’re gonna keep the HA anyway) . The younger fans probably know little to nothing about the older titles. which is probably why they’re not the ones on TSS b*tching like u and I LOL….
    ANYWAY, lets all just hope for a good, solid game and not be so knick picky…….

  14. You know what I think? I think that in 1999 SEGA’s programmers said to nintendo’s: “Look! We can make our character to go straight to the enemies, and choose the ennemy based on proximity and the Control stick direction!”

    Nintendo was so upset for this, that mario can do a Homing Attack now since Super Mario Galaxy lol, which, in mario’s case, is usless…

    But for Sonic! C’mon guys, Don’t you remember getting through a 20 meter gap by defeating a row of ennemies in Metal Harbor in Sonic Adventure 2? I still play that game!!!

    And I don’t know who said in a review on the internet that “I’m glad that you don’t have to take a train to go to the action stage” HOW THE HELL CAN YOU SAY THAT!? It was awesome to just run around Station Square! And finding the Hidden Emblems! I would have loved to see that in Sonic Adventure 2!

    I sense that this game is gonna be as kickass as the originals… Because… I mean, sonic has been a Platformer and -since it came to 3D- Kind of RPG too, but now… Now sonic roleplays as ali baba and arthur and now he became jacob black from twilight being al wolfy around WHAT THE HELL!? The gamer is supposed to roleplay as sonic! not sonic roleplaying some disney dude that found a migic lamp…err ring.

    My last words are… Thanks for this game and now GO MAKE SONIC ADVENTURE 3 thanks. lol

    PS: No more roleplaying for you, Sonic the Hedgehog!

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