Along with his impressions of Sonic Colours, Gamespot’s Mark Walton has also posted his impressions of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. Those of you sick of hearing about Splash Hill Zone will be glad to see the preview is focused entirely on Lost Labyrinth Zone.
Walton begins with Lost Labyrinth Zone Act 2, which is entirely dark apart from a small amount of light given off by a torch that Sonic carries through the Act. Not only does this torch aid you visually, but you’ll need it for puzzles. One puzzle sees Sonic in a room where he has to light lanterns in the correct order to release platforms, or else they disappear before Sonic can make his escape. Another couple of puzzles are based around lighting dynamite that Sonic will have to light to explode large blocks.
The lack of light was used for several puzzles in the zone. In one area, there were lanterns on the wall, which we could ignite using the torch. Each lantern extended a platform, which we needed to climb up to escape the room. However, the lanterns had to be lit in a certain order and at a particular time; otherwise, the platforms would disappear before we could make it all the way to the top.
Later in the level, we found another use for our fire torch: igniting dynamite. Some large stones blocked our path, which rather handily had dynamite attached to them, along with a fuse. By igniting the fuse, we could blow up the blocks and clear the path. Another area had several explosive blocks in it. We had to carefully choose which blocks to ignite and which to leave in place so we could jump up to a secret area at the top of the screen.
Other classic platform game traps are built around boulders, Walton explains. One point has you time jumps to avoid being hit by falling boulders, while in another you have to jump on a rolling boulder and move your analogue stick/press your d-pad left and right to maintain Sonic’s balance.
The dynamite section was swiftly followed by one involving boulders, which dropped down into a pit below. We had to time our jumps just right to make it across the pit without falling into it. Later, a boulder was released from behind us Indiana Jones-style. Rather than just run away, Sonic jumped on it and we had to maintain our balance by pressing left or right while it rolled down a long track.
Walton then talks about the infamous minecart, which if you’ve been keeping up to date, you’ll know has been revised in the console versions of the game. The minecart is now limited to a small portion of the stage and is no longer motion controlled, it instead rolls along while you make a few jumps to avoid hazards and falls.
The final section of the level featured a mine cart sequence, which required some quick reflexes. After jumping into a cart, we sped off down a long track where we had to jump over obstacles and avoid falling down bottomless pits. The lack of light made it difficult to see upcoming hazards, so we had to be especially alert to make it out alive.
Walton says that fans should rest assured that while these are new mechanics, you’ll still find plenty of familiar classic elements in the stage.
While these sections added something new to the series, we found there was still plenty of classic Sonic action. All the loops, springs, and insane speed from the original games were there, along with plenty of tricky water hazards and spikes to avoid.
At the end of the preview, Walton reveals the game now incorporates a world map instead of a basic stage select screen.
Though we weren’t able to try it out, we spotted a casino-themed level on the world map screen, which indicates there is still plenty more to be revealed about Sonic’s HD outing.
TSS founder Svend Joscelyne aka Dreadknux, who also played the game at SEGA’s press event last week has confirmed this world map screen in a post at the SSMB.
It’s a proper map. 🙂
Joscelyne then revealed that classic progression is an option, so you don’t have to return to the world map if you don’t want to.
I forgot to mention. There’s a choice, actually, of whether you want classic progression or not. Once you pass that Act Clear marker, and the score counts down, a button will appear at the bottom of the screen (I think it was Triangle on the PS3 preview version or something), that says “Jump to Next Act.” If you don’t do this before the fadeout, you go back to the World Map screen.
Note I said World Map – as in “awesome, detailed static world view,” and not “shitty, confusing 3D world hub.” =P
For the full preview, head over to Gamespot
What do you think of the preview? Are you happy with the change to a world map? Discuss in the comments.