E3 2010 Preview: Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1

E3 2010 Preview: Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1

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.


  1. I am sorry if you didn’t like the homing attack. The thing is that Sonic has been using that move since the days of Sonic Adventure, and it’s not a bad thing for characters to have more powers then they used to (Besides I liked the homing attack because it is one of the more useful moves). However, I agree with Sonic having that green-eyed look. People need to accept the fact that characters and designs evolve over the years.

  2. No old-school charm?

    I’m okay with that. I started my Sonic life with Adventure DX, so I prefer the newer style.

  3. Sonic’s opened armed flail is stupid… They should give him his falling animation from Advance instead or allow him to keep rolling even while in mid-air.

  4. So the game everybody was meant to be hyped over is actually… no good at all? Take the game off the Best of E3 nominations list. Sorry, SEGA, but you haven’t delivered what you were meant to, which is a Sonic game with a complete classic feel, which is what was required when you called it Sonic 4.

    Knew something like this was gonna happen, anyway. Can you ask them to delay the game again? Maybe you could actually tell them HOW to make video games. In fact, just hand the game over to the fan-base for them to develop. After all, seems like everybody and their mothers know how to do it better than the actual company that’s making money for putting out crap.

    Yes, I’ve actually gotten to the point where I’m pissed off. Congrats, SEGA. You’ve ticked off the one person who never got ticked off at anything.

    (See, if they hadn’t called it what they did, I wouldn’t be like this at all. But the fact is that the title ‘Sonic 4’ holds a promise that Sonic Team cannot live up to.)

  5. Why sega make a brand new dinamics to a classic sonic game, Sonic 4 must be in 16-bit/ with 16-bit music and sound, with 2d sprites.
    Same with DKCR, must be a prerender game called DKC4.

  6. I agree with monty, the flail is not really necessary. plus it takes too long to get sonic in his full running speed. I’d rather have it like they did when there were no hills and sonic would be able to keep a slow full circle running animation

  7. @Crap:

    Mate, just face it. If they put it in 16bit, that wouldn’t make a difference to the physics and level design. It would still be exactly the same game, just in 16bit. That’s it. An aesthetic change -doesn’t- do anything to improve gameplay and -won’t- do anything.

  8. Have any of you realized that the game is not finished yet? They said they have more stuff to work on, sheesh. The game this person played is not the finished product, so it could all change. But wait…this is the Sonic fan-base, no one can be pleased…so I just wasted text…

  9. Welcome to the Sonic fanbase anymore.

    Sonic game is coming. Fans scream woes.

    Many people and organizations review the early builds of the game (tweaked) and report it as very good. Fans rejoice.

    One negative review is written. Fans fall over themselves declaring “I told you so!”


    I’ll be buying and enjoying Sonic 4 anyway.

  10. I swear to god if people dont stop complaining about sonics god damn mother fucking green eyes…. seriously people!?!?!? DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO FIND SOMETHING TO COMPLAIN ABOUT!? Or can you just be happy that there is a fun video game icon out there?

  11. @ Viking ZX

    So you’re just automatically asuming that you are going to enjoy it?

    I think that maybe the Sonic fanbase isn’t as hard to please as many Sonic fans claim and are instead ridiculously easy to please. That would explain why so many just assume his games are going to be fun even when he’s let us down so many times.

    Still, we’ll see how the finished product handles first.

  12. Why don’t we all just shut the hell up and stop arguing about how bad/good this fanbase is.
    This about Sonic 4, not its fans/haters.

    I imagine the 360 version feels bad because of that horrendous d-pad. I’ve played the classics with that thing, and it ain’t at all good, so many times it miscalculates the direction button you’re actually pressing, which presents problems in 2D sidecrollers.
    Both the Wii, and PS3 have better d-pads, and should therefore feel much tighter. Good thing I have a PS3.

    The floaty jump animation shouldn’t be too hard to change, and they could get rid of the mid air flail, so that you remail in a ball, if you were rolling before the quarter-pipe.

    I’m pretty sure Mr. Ballough wouldn’t be too hard-pressed not to listen to your suggestions about the animations and niggles.

  13. This isn’t the complete version, Sega said it themselves that it was not the final build that would be presented at E3.
    I swear, the fans love to jump to conclusions..-_-;

  14. Hhhhmm, sounds like a okay game to me. I think they focus to much on making this go back to the roots. I think Sonic colors will be way better, and I think it’s becaus it dosen’t try to be the old Sonic everyone(nearly everyone) wants. Well, I’m going to get the game, but I’m sure that I will enjoy Sonic Colors alot more. But who knows, when we get the game later this year they might have changed it alot! We can always hope! 😉

  15. I see what you’re saying about the physics, just by looking i can see that Sonic looks a little stiff when moving, and his momentum takes a bit to get going. And I also agree with you about the homing attack, there should be an option to use it. Though I wouldnt mind a few times (maybe not even as much as a few) where it was neccesary to continue on the highest path in the act. But hey, I don’t want to nitpick! C:

  16. Eh, I’m buying it anyway. I feel like I’m the only person who never judges a game until I play it *whirr*. I even gave Sonic Next-Gen a chance, the cashier at GameStop even warned the game was terrible, and I still gave it a try… Okay bad example because it did end up being absolutely terrible, but you get the idea.

    I myself am more excited about Colours. The first game I ever played was Sonic 1, but if I had the choice to play Sonic 1 or Sonic Adventure, I’d pick Adventure. I guess I just like the 3D games more *shrug*.

  17. I got a better chance to hunker down tih the game today and changed my views on it a little. Read my updated look at the game.

  18. Why is everyone treating this guys opinion as fact? Sometimes it really sucks to be apart of this fanbase…

  19. Glad to hear your opinions improved with a second play-through. Looks like the game just needs a bit of getting used to.

    I wonder if we’ll see any similar opinion changes from some of the earlier commenters in the thread?

  20. Well, Jason, they just announced that they were redoing the game not too long ago, so they probably didn’t have enough time to “fix” the game before E3. I’m LOLing at how everyone is finalizing their opinions of Sonic 4 on an unfinished, rushed demo.

    Also, honestly, I HATE the classic look. I just think he looks too fat to run so fast. The New-Gen style just looks cooler to me. So, I really have no idea why so many so-called “fans” are pushing for that look. Besides, who cares what the character looks like, as long as the game’s fun, RIGHT???

  21. @ Inferno the Fox

    It seems you and I are the only two fans here wondering why everyone is finalizing they’re opinions because someone said it wasn’t as fun as they thought.

    Then I found the answer to my question. This is the *Sonic fanbase*.

  22. i buy this game and sonic colours i like every sonic game
    and come on guy what wrong with ya
    i and cool game

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