I sat down did a second playthrough today, and have changed my feeling a bit towards the game. I think you’ll be happier with the results. Before, my playtime was a bit sparse and affected how I felt about the game. You may be happier with what I have to say.
Well, there’s been enough of my praise of Sonic Colors. It’s time to get hands on one of the most controversial Sonic games yet…. Sonic 4. I’ve had my chance to get a hold of both the Wii and 360 versions of this game. While it’s pretty fun, it’s not quite a perfect game.
While the physics are being improved, there’s still a little ways to go. The controls tend to feel a little bit stiff. Mostly due to the slow nature in which Sonic builds up speed. It really takes him a while to get going. When he does get up to speed, things start to roll more smoothly and the game has a nice brisk pace. But still, he feels a bit off. Not quite that natural flow. However once you get used to it (which will take a few levels), it will start to feel better. Also, there’s that odd spin when he jumps in the air. Why that animation and not the same one used for spin dash like the older games? It looks odd compared to the classic games. What surprised me is that the controls felt a little better on the Wii version. I don’t know if it’s the D-Pad or the fact that I was playing the fast-paced Act 3 on it, but the Wii Sonic just seemed to feel more fluid. It might be me getting more used to the controls.
Now comes the part everyone dreads…the Homing Attack! This particular move is both a blessing and a curse. When designed properly in a level (Act 3), it helps keep the momentum going and works well. However, in some cases (especially Act 2) it gets over-used and you’re having to do the homing attack every two seconds. C’mon Sega! I don’t mind the move, but lets not over do it! That said, it does not make the game play insta-win, but mainly is used to find branching paths by hitting Badnik bridges. There are times when it has to be used due to Sonic’s odd open-armed flail after going straight up from a ramp. Otherwise, he’s somewhat exposed to attack. That said, I did manage to finish the first two levels without doing a single homing attack. It’s not totally optional, as it’s hard not to do in act 3, but it shows it can be done. Also, Eggman is pretty easy to beat with or without the homing attack.
Now, onto a more positive outlook. The game is still fun to play and, despite the new controls, it oddly does have an old-school feel to it. I was surprised to hear that other people I talked to felt the same way. I think this is mainly due to the levels themselves. They are larger than you may have seen in leaked videos and have several branching paths. At least as large as the first Zone levels in Sonic’s 1 and 2 helping give the levels a bit of exploration if you don’t want to rush through. Thankfully the Badniks are still a small threat and help provide challenge in the levels. One particular green Badnik I hadn’t seen before turns into a missile and shoots itself in your direction. Outside of Bubbles being used as a bridge, most of them can give you a little challenge. Which is always a good thing. The graphics look very sharp and colorful on the 360. Despite all the “hardcore” fans groaning about it not having a 16-bit look, I like Sonic’s shell-shaded, green-eyed look. The Wii version is not bad either. Although it’s resolution is knocked down a bit and the colors are a little muted, it keeps the same fast 60fps pace as the 360 version. Heck maybe the gamers yearning for a more classic look will want the Wii version just for that. Makes it more “retro”. (Just kidding folks)
By the way. when they say “momentum based gameplay”, I see what they mean now. Much like the older games, if you want to explore the level and find hidden areas, you can. However, if you want to do a speed run through the level, the homing attack actually helps give you an advantage to help maintain your speed.
Sonic 4 has that old-school look, a little bit of the old-school charm, but not quite the old-school feel…yet. Outside of the over use of homing attack, the levels themselves seem well designed and the game can be pretty fun at times. If they can get the physics perfect, this will go from a very fun downloadable game, to a must-have. Also, it must be said that this is a game you can’t truly judge unless you play it yourself. Videos do not tell the whole picture until you have it in your hand. Also those expecting it to be a true predecessor to Sonic 3? Get real. It’s a downloadable Arcade title and has the feel of one. If anything, it’s closer to Sonic 1 or 2 in it’s level design. It’s paying homage to the classic games while still offering something new and that’s not a bad thing.
If you buy one Sonic game this year….make it Colors. (LOL! Sorry, but it’s true.) However, make your second choice Sonic 4. It’s not perfect, but it’s still fun.